In a country long focused on bringing home as many Olympic gold medals as possible, this years haul isnt what China expected.When Chinas 416-athlete delegation set off for Rio, state sports officials were banking on 30 to 36 gold medals. As the games end, it had won just 24 for the worst showing since Atlanta in 1996.Lagging in third place, Chinas total is a far cry from the countrys 51-gold performance in Beijing that topped the gold medal chart.But so what?The once-feverish obsession with the gold tally has slowly subsided among the Chinese public, which has shown more interest this year in lavishing adoration on athletes with personalities, such as bronze medalist Fu Yuanhui, rather than counting medals.Finally, the public desire for golds has returned to normal, said Lu Yuanzhen, a professor of sports at South China Normal University who has long argued that a mature nation should have a more relaxed attitude toward wins and losses in athletic competitions.The ordinary Chinese people have become more indifferent to the medal counts now they understand Olympic golds bear little impact on their real lives, Lu told The Associated Press.For decades, the Communist state has rallied national unity and pride on the countrys athletic performances on the world stage, especially in the Olympics. The entire country was moved to tears when Xu Haifeng, a pistol shooter, won the first gold Olympic medal for Communist China in Los Angeles in 1984. It was considered a sign that China finally was able to claim a place among world powers, a huge boost to national pride.The fever only grew as Beijing sought better Olympic performances and the ultimate goal of hosting the games. The Olympics was a national obsession, and gold medalists were household names and rewarded generously.Chinas gold medal tally climbed to 28 in Sydney, 32 in Athens and 51 in Beijing. In London, Chinese athletes still took away 38 gold medals and were second only to U.S. Olympians.But following the climax in Beijing, public obsession with Olympic golds began to fade, and voices of criticism grew louder against the state-run sports system credited with the countrys stellar Olympic performances.Critics argue the brutal system has sacrificed vast numbers of rank-and-file athletes, encouraged dishonesty -- such as doping, age alteration and game rigging -- in the name of national honor, and distanced sports from the public.When this years games began in Rio, state media lamented the lack of golds on the opening day, but Chinese sports fans stayed nonchalant. They were more interested in chasing athletes oozing with personality.The most telling example is Fu Yuanhui, a female swimmer who overnight became a social media sweetheart for claiming she had used primeval force in a semifinal. She eventually won a bronze. Shaped by the social media instead of the state parlance, Fus vernacular resonated with ordinary Chinese people, who were already bored with empty talks.Ning Zetao, another swimmer, came home empty-handed from Rio but still grabbed headlines because of his undiminished popularity back in China. And Chinese social media was full of encouraging words when swimmer Sun Yang failed to qualify for the 1,500-meter free style final, a sharp contrast to the days when the Chinese public hurled hurtful words at athletes failing to cinch the gold.The swimmers got a welcome from thousands of fans at a Beijing airport. Fu was scared. Nings appearance caused congestion, and besieged by fans seeking photographs and autographs, he could barely move.At recently as 2008, the public booed hurdler Liu Xiang when he could not get off the starting line in Beijing because of injuries.The public has gone to another extreme -- tolerance of non-champions and even adoration of them, wrote Li Ruyi, a veteran Chinese sports writer in a commentary on the news site ifeng.com.Under the most pressure are Chinese gymnasts, who came home with two bronzes this year, the worst performance ever in 32 years.It is also the first time that Team China, a longtime powerhouse in gymnastics, did not win a single gold since China returned to the Olympics in 1984. For the past several years, Chinas gymnastics officials have worried that the state system is running out of steam because the national team has a dwindling pool from which to recruit top talent, a consequence of isolating young talent in the state system.Even if there is more acceptance that every year wont bring a haul of gold, there is still a sense of alarm, and many dont like that China sits behind the United States and Great Britain in the race for golds.There are also whispers that Japan, the upcoming host of the 2020 Summer Olympics Games, could pose a threat to China. That prospect is likely to rekindle the countrys nationalistic sentiments, because of long-time animosity toward the neighboring country that invaded China and shamed the Middle Kingdom in the early 20th century.If the Chinese delegations achievements should indeed decline at this years Rio Olympic games, it begs some serious thoughts on the part of Chinas sports circle, wrote Liu Ge, a state media commentator in the party-run Global Times. The public can accept some mistakes and some failures, but the tolerance over the loss of one gold does not mean that Chinas sports circle should not care about the overall haul of golds and medals. Cam Robinson Jersey .com) - The game was all punts and field goals before Kodi Whitfields catch. 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An unfortunate gym mishap for Sam Gibson aside, the injury outlook at North Melbourne continues to improve ahead of a pivotal fortnight for the Kangaroos.Gibson is in doubt for Saturdays clash against Sydney after suffering a broken nose but the Roos could regain Scott Thompson, Ben Brown, Ben Jacobs, Sam Wright and even long-term absentee Shaun Higgins for the Hobart encounter.The eighth-placed Kangaroos need all the help they can get as look to stave off a late challenge from ninth-placed Melbourne with wins against the Swans and then Greater Western Sydney.Roos coach Brad Scott told reporters on Wednesday Gibson sustained a broken nose and a nasty gash to his face after he slipped and dropped a barbell on his head on Tuesday morning.Hes not ok, hes pretty sore at the moment, Scott said.He was sent to hospital just to rule out any other facial fractures, which hes clear of.Hes a bit uncomfortable but were still really optimistic hell be available to play this week.Gibson has played the past 105 games without a break - the longest active streak in the AFL.Higgins hasnt played at any level since knee surgery after round seven but Scott is confident the veteran is capable of slotting straight back into the senior side without a stint in the VFFL.ddddddddddddIn further good news for North, key forward Jarrad Waite is making better than expected progress in his recovery from hip surgery a fortnight ago and is a chance to return against the Giants at Etihad Stadium in round 23.The Demons can snatch eighth place from the Roos if they win their last two games - against Carlton and Geelong - and North lose against Sydney and GWS.But Scott is intent on improving his clubs position in the eight rather than holding off Paul Roos emerging side.Were not happy to finish eighth, he said.Once round 23 is done theres a week off before eight clubs get to launch an assault on the finals, thats what were looking at but were going to have to play some pretty good footy in the next two weeks to get that opportunity.Our view is that were looking to play our best footy to make an impact in September - its not about just getting there.Scott dismissed suggestions a decision on the playing future of AFL games record holder Brent Harvey would be made at a scheduled board meeting on Wednesday night, adding all personnel moves will be left until the end of the Roos 2016 campaign. 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