I was looking at the medal count from the Summer Olympics in Beijing, and I was amazed at how poorly the Russian team is doing so far. My amazement was centered on the fact that in the past, the central rivalry was West vs East, the U.S. vs the U.S.S.R. Obviously, the Soviet Union disappeared nearly two decades ago, but there are many within Russia who would love to see their nation return to the global position once held by the Soviets.
This time around, are the Russians our primary rival? Hardly. In 2008, it's the Chinese. Sure, some of that comes from holding the Olympics in Beijing. But it's also a reminder that China has quickly emerged as a global power.
So here's my thought: Is a strong Chinese performance this year a reflection of the new global stage, or a warning/predictor/forecast of things to come?