During the London Olympics, two young ladies from the Kazakhstani team Zulfiya Chinshanlo (19) and Maiya Maneza (26) each earned gold medals in their respective weight classes as well as setting a World and Olympic Record respectively.

However, their celebrations were short lived as China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency declared that they are in fact secret Chinese nationals, Zhao Changing (19) and Yao Ling (26) who were sent on a clandestine mission to Kazakhstan to spread the sport.

Looking at Ms. Chinshanlo’s Olympic profile, she is a descendant of the Dungan people who migrated from China during the Qing Dynasty and adopted Islam.  As a result Dungan people are usually multilingual but retain an antiquated version of Madarin Chinese, kind of like saying “Wouldst thou liketh thyne tea henceforth.” in English.  According to Xinhua, her Chinese ability is actually a result of – well, being Chinese.

Meanwhile, Maiya Maneza claims that she was born in Soviet Kyrgyz but lived with her family in China for 10 years where she would naturally pick up some Chinese.  Maneza claims she never trained as a weightlifter in China.

However, the Chinese news agency reports that Maneza was born and raised in Liaoning Province as Yao Ling where she started her path to weightlifting gold.  From there she was sent to Hunan province where she trained with Chinshanlo (then named Zha Changing) who was from a remote mountain village in the province.

From there their coach decided to dispatch the two women to Kazakhstan in an effort to propagate the sport – I repeat:  to propagate the sport of weightlifting. So apparently the sport of lifting heavy things which must have existed in cavemen times, had not reached the nation of Kazakhstan.

Forget Borat, I think if I were Kazakhstani, I’d be right pissed at this story saying that I never knew about weightlifting.

Apparently I’m not the only one rolling my eyes at this story as on the internet Chinese citizens also gave a collective “Oh please!”  They especially brushed aside Xinhua’s indignation over Maneza’s refusal to use Chinese in interviews after her win calling it a “betrayal of her homeland.”

The general consensus was that whether this story is true or not, Team China needs to take care of its own problems rather than worry about other teams, and that it’d be no surprise if champions defected to other countries.  One Chinese commenter astutely criticized the “betrayal” by saying, “with all the coaches smeared with corruption charges, I wonder how many real star athletes are buried in the system, unable to shine.”

Source: MSN News (Japanese)