Kemarahan Yu Yang saat perebutan medali perunggu Olimpiade Rio 2016
Chinese athletes are known for being a disciplined bunch, almost to the point of being robotic.
And that’s why it was a surprise to many when Yu Yang yelled at her coaches and angrily threw her towel to the floor when she and partner, Tang Yuanting were playing for a bronze medal in the badminton women’s doubles against South Korea. “I threw the towel on the floor because I am an irritable person,” Yu said after losing the match. “I actually felt like it was a relief now. It has finally ended. Although I did not play well today, it was such a relief.” It was an important match for the 30-year-old – winner of women’s doubles gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics as well as numerous world championships – who is retiring after Rio.
Her outpouring of emotion has highlighted the pressure Chinese Olympians in Rio, and in particular the badminton players, have faced to live up to the expectation their fans had in them in a sport which China has traditionally dominated.
China won golds in all five badminton categories at the 2012 London Olympics. But here in Rio, the most China has been able to achieve is a pair of golds – in men’s singles and doubles.
Thursday’s match against less-experienced Korean opponents was not expected to be a difficult one. “I have completed my last badminton match with regret. But that’s good. For me, it’s a good thing to pack up my stuff and leave badminton with regret,” Yu said.