Tonight saw the final of the Figure Skating Pairs competition in the Olympics. It was a good final, the artistry of the skaters, particularly the Chinese couples were beautiful to watch.
Pairs more than any of the other figure skating disciplines manages to combine grace and fluidity with a speed and althleticism which makes you gasp out loud. Forget the pretty outfits, this is not a safe sport.
The Russian pair Totmianina and Marinin were the favourites to win gold and they nailed a performance which was pretty much flawless. I'll admit, I don't really understand the new scoring system but so far, it seems to have prevented any erratic decisions.
So there was one more couple to skate, Zhang Dan and Zhang Hao. Early in their routine they tried to do a throw quad salchow, which had never been done before in competition. Zhang Dan landed horribly in an awkward splits postition. She stopped skating, obviously in a great deal of pain. The couple went to speak to their coach and then decided to carry on skating, picking up the routine from where they left off. It was a wonderful performance, something that you couldn't quite believe you were seeing. She had clearly been injured and yet was skating as if she was in no pain at all. As soon as they finished Zhang Dan started crying. They won silver, Zhang Dan's knee heavily bandaged while they waited for their results.
It reminded me a lot of Kerri Strug in the 1996 Olympics. I find it awe-inspiring that someone can overcome that much physical pain because they have to compete, they have to. This is their chance and they will not let anything ruin it. It's interesting that both those occasions involved the "weaker sex". I think that woman have a higher pain threshold then man, because of the physical processes we have to go through, therefore women have a better ability to overcome pain then men.
Anyway, I hope that tonight, Zhang Dan is happy with her silver medal and her knee has no long term damage. Insha Allah I'll be cheering them on to win gold in Vancouver.