Bright Stove

Reflecting information risk journey

Superwomen at the Beijing Olympic 2008

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After watching the super long celebration of the Beijing Olympic 2008 opening last night — four hours on the couch, accompanied by three pots of Pu Er tea, I was exhausted. The first hour of the event was fresh and touching though. It depicted the path of the Chinese culture, from past to present. The final strike, which leads to the light up of the Olympic torch at the stadium, although interesting, didn’t seem signifying, or inspiring, unlike the torching at Barcelona (with the archer shooting a lighted arrow to the torch) and the one involving Mohammad Ali. It just looked like one of those movie feats.
 
This morning, first thing, I went to the gym to have a jog to recharge. The air outside was still not good, gloomy and blurry, it’s been nearly two months that I have not seen a clear blue sky day. The temperature is rather high as well, at around 30 degree Celsius. Can’t run out there.
 
At the gym, while on the treadmill, trying not to run like a lab rat, I have my MP3 player on, and also the TV tuned to the Olympic broadcast channel — yes, it is channel eight (the "auspicious" channel). The TV was broadcasting the women’s 48 kg category weight lifting competition. Those women participating weigh around 48 kg (in fact, 47+ kg in general). The event started with the Snatch technique competition, with Nicaragua’s Karla Moreno taking the first attempt at 65 kg weight, and she dropped. She looked nervous, and it was certainly a blow. At the second attempt, she made the mark at 65 kg, and I was happy for her, and still running. Then she tried 71 kg, and dropped again. That’s done for her. Next came Canada’s Marilou Dozois-Prevost. Her first attempt was 73 kg. Hmm, that’s courageous, I thought. The previous one just dropped dead at 71 kg, and now she was setting a new bar, and she made it, and carried on to pass 76 kg (happy for her), but dropped at 78 kg in her third attempts (oops!). Next came France’s Melanie Noel, who successfully lifted 75 kg, 78 kg, and 80 kg, in her three attempts, respectively, interjected by Poland’s Marzena Karpinska and Japan’s Misaki Oshiro, in quite a close fight. Wow, I thought, since this is the first time I ever watched such a competition. Poland’s Karpinska started at 79 kg but didn’t make the 82 kg bar she set for later two attempts. Japan’s Oshiro started with 77 kg and completed at 80 kg successfully. At that moment, I thought the bar of 80 kg was pretty much set and whoever can beat that in a few kg will win the gold. Then came Korea’s Jyounghwa Im who started with 83 kg and made it, setting a new bar for the rest! Next, more surprising, Taipei’s Chen Weiling came and set another bar at 84 kg. But that’s not the end yet. Turkey’s Sibel Oskan came in fresh — with a small frame, unlike a weight lifter if you see her on the street — and set another new bar at 86 in her first attempt, and 88 kg in her third attempts. That looks like it then. But wait, where is China’s rep then? There were some documentary about her before the event started, how come she didn’t appear? And up onto the stage came China’s Chen Xiexia. Amazingly, she started at 90 kg, followed by 93 kg, and completed at 95 kg, beating every Superwomen in the race, flat! That’s truly "a mountain taller than another mountain", as the Chinese saying goes (一山还比一山高).
 
When I reflected on this amazing competition (after stepping out from the treadmill), I thought, this truly reflects the arms race we experience in information security. Just when I thought Canada’s Dozois-Prevost has set the bar, Japan and Poland tried to break it, and Korea’s Im broke it. And shortly after, Taipei’s Chen set another one, then Turkey set the next, and finally, China’s Chen set it straight. Isn’t this the same as the security vulnerability-exploit-countermeasures arms race that’s in the information security arena? There’s no ending. Even for Chen Xiexia, she has to watch the next Olympic, and next, and so on. Another Superwomen will pop up one day to set the next bar higher.
 
That’s not over yet. When I got back home, the second round, known as the "Clean and Jerk" technique just started. This, unlike the Snatch (and lift) technique, kind of more involved, in which the lifter first lift the weights to her upper chest at the shoulder level, then pushes it up from there. With a change of technique, interestingly, I see new results.
 
Recall earlier that Nigaragua’s Moreno could not go beyond her 65 kg mark with the snatch, but with this technique, she returned and completed 83 kg, then 85 kg (in her third attempts). That’s another 20 kg more! Amazing. The same went for Canada’s Dozois-Prevost, who reached 90 kg, Japan’s Oshiro at 105 kg, Chinese Taipei’s Chen Weiling at 112 kg, and finally, China’s Chen Xiexia at 117 kg and broke the Olympic record with a gold medal — the first gold medal for China in this Olympic. You can read more about this in the various news broadcast. What I think the learning from these Superwomen here is that with just a switch of techniques, the results are so different. It just showed the importance of looking for and using alternative approaches to solve problems, i.e., innovation.
 
Another important point is that the Superwomen were carrying weights that are more than twice their own body weight. It is pure energy that they are exerting. Where did they get all those strengths? The limit of things human can do is actually quite an unknown indeed. While they may be gifted with certain attributes or characteristics, a lot of their achievements are really the results of training and practicing. I guess the gold medalist Chen Xiexia will also say the same if you have a chance to talk to her (I haven’t have one though) 🙂
 
Enjoy the Olympic 2008!
 
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Written by mengchow

August 9, 2008 at 7:42 am

Posted in Risk Management

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