Ok… because someone asked me who China’s entry into Miss Universe was:
Name: Wang Jingyao
Height: 182 cm
I don’t know anything else about her but this particular request reminded me of another request, by another commenter to translate Miss World 2007, Zhang Zilin‘s blog entry in defense of Chinese hurdler Liu Xiang, which deeply impressed me when I read it; it was beautifully written. Not to mention that she took her time to write an essay about the matter because she could help, and I think that’s the beauty of these “beauty pageants”, they find people who in general love helping others.
So I’ve put the translation below the cut, and I also talk about the difference between Miss World vs Miss Universe as it pertains to China.
The backstory for those who don’t know it (if you don’t I’m assuming you’re not completely Chinese):
Liu Xiang walked off the track in the Beijing 2008 Olympic preliminaries for the 110 m hurdle, after a false start by another runner. This occurred on August 18, 2008. It was a blow to everyone at the stadium because Liu Xiang, after getting a gold in track in field at the Athens 2004 Olympics, had become an instant national hero, and people were hoping that he could pull off the feat again in 2008, when China was the host country. After he walked off, many supported him, many scorned him, and some cynically said that he had never intended to race – this was not limited to those in China…I found many foreign news portals wild with speculations.
So a day later, Zhang Zilin, who had also professionally trained for the 110 m hurdles, wrote this:
Zhang Zilin’s blog entry in defense of Liu Xiang:
There have been people making statements online about Liu Xiang’s withdrawal from the race, both good and bad. Those critical of him say that he should at least have walked to the finish. However, this is unrealistic, because you must cross over ten hurdles. If you deliberately use your hand to knock it down or your foot kicks it down, you get fouled. The men’s 110 m hurdles is 106.7 cm high; there is no possibility of “walking” across.
I trained in hurdles for many years. Although I never became a professional athlete I have a certain amount of understanding of this sport. Hurdling is a comparatively a technically-demanding sport. It altogether has 10 hurdles, with a height of 106.7 cm. From the starting line to the first hurdle, there is a distance of 13.72 m (8 steps). The distance in between each hurdle, from the second to last, is 9.14 m (3 steps). Such set numbers requires an elevated combination of skill and fitness in an athlete.
In the early afternoon I saw the first meet of the 110 m race during the live broadcast on tv , but I didn’t find Liu Xiang’s withdrawal unexpected. I remember when I was young and first began practicing hurdles, the coach told me for a hurdler, the biggest enemy is an ailment. Even if it is the most inconspicuous of injuries, someone is only as good as his weakest link* and it directly affects the athlete’s results. I have tasted the effect of ankle ligament injury and a pulled thigh muscle. That kind of heart-wrenching pain combined with the helpless feeling of being unable to perform as desired can cause one to go crazy.
Indeed, in track and field, when athletes are burdened by physical affliction it is hard to pull off the best results, because track and field, especially in short distance and jumping events, requires the utmost from every part of the body, to achieve great results. It is different from team sports: even when the athletes get hurt and collapse to the ground, after a period of rest there is still a possibility of returning, and with the cooperation of teammates, obtaining a good result. I think that Liu Xiang’s decision to withdraw from the race was a level-headed one. I heard that the doctor who examined him said that he had hurt his Achilles tendon. I believe if he really recklessly fought to do the race, there would be a possibility of completely rupturing it, with a result I can’t even imagine.
Sports have given mankind so much happiness, but for athletes it can be very cruel. In the arena, the effort and energy put in may not necessarily bear fruit. Many times because of injury and unexpected occurrences, the sweat and tears of many years of hard work will be forever lost. I feel that all the athletes who go out onto the field for China, should deserve our admiration. Even defeat should not be be criticized by spectators. Liu Xiang’s withdrawal may only be a temporary moment of disappointment for everyone, but for Liu Xiang himself, this could be a dark shadow that afflicts him his entire life. This is completely unfair to him, let’s use our open hearts to welcome him back on the track once more.
*she actually compares the inconspicuous injury using the metaphor of a wooden bucket only being able to hold as much water as its shortest wooden plank.
I love the way that she wrote this. If you don’t think it’s well-written, then I can only apologize because it must be my faulty translation.
It’s easy for everyone to read – simple, but well organized, and firmly makes her point, without any excess or tangent. She first states the issue that she has a problem with in the beginning, clearly making her stand. Then she gives her credentials for speaking on this matter, but not in an inundating way. From that point she slowly eases into painting a pictures of an athlete, allowing the reader to step in Liu Xiang’s shoes, and ends with an appeal to human sentiments of generosity and benevolence. There is no doubt in the mind of the reader afterward of anything and she does a thorough job of covering all bases. In paragraph four, she even makes a comparison to team sports, perhaps because of Yao Ming, the other famous Chinese athlete who has been a shining example of perseverance despite also having foot troubles, effectively squashing that opportunity to compare and complain.
I can’t think of anyone really more qualified to defend him. She trained in the exact same event, so her technical understanding is greater than any laymen, but unlike his coach or teammates, she’s not an insider to the sport, which would cause suspect that she has any obligation to speak on his behalf. She also psychologically knew what it felt like to represent a country. Liu Xiang is lucky that someone like her, with all those qualities, plus the additional ones of fame and eloquence took the time to write this and put this on her blog the day after his decision. I don’t know what her schedule was like at the time, but she was still in her one-year reign as Miss World; thus it must have been busy, and it’s a wonderful example of the giving spirit of the beauty pageant contestants.
Miss World vs Miss Universe vs Entertainment Figures
I’m not sure which is more prestigious Miss World or Miss Universe – usually with award ceremonies the older something is the more prestigious it is, and Miss World was established first. However, since Miss World is more British-based and Miss Universe is US-based, and US is the center of entertainment, it swings publicity to favor the latter.
But for right now it’s safe to say China finds Miss World the more prominent one, and it is certainly the one that China cares about more since it is frequently held in the coastal city of Sanya, Hainan (this is where An Xiang is filmed – gorgeous place), and has boosted tourism in the region a great deal. And thus, Miss World is slightly more interesting to me as it has a more lasting impact.
Otherwise, it’s seems such pageants have less to do with the direction or trends of a country than say, entertainment, which is one of the most important sources in shaping perceptions and understanding. However, despite their lesser affect, I do admire very much the actual contestants themselves. Such contests are less focused on a particular talent, as with entertainment, but a person as a whole who represents good character, and as the saying goes, only the foolish take pride in their talent. It’s a pity they are not more in the pubic consciousness.
This is not to say that entertainment lacks well-rounded character – there are plenty of people in Chinese entertainment that I would love to translate the blog entries of but don’t due to time constraints, from that of Jing Boran’s lovely entries on his thoughts about his reluctant entry into fame, to Li Yapeng’s romantically written prose about his life and family. But on the whole entertainment seems so superficial at times, and it’s entries like Zhang Zilin’s that jolt you back to core elements of life such as sacrifice, perserverence, and helping another when they need it.