Stuff You Might Be Hearing: Olympics TV

If you’re watching the Olympics in China (as I am) here are some words that come up all the time on the TV that you might as well know (if you don’t already).

It’s so hard to use the TV as listening practice, I thought I’d try to help stack the deck in your favor. If you can get to where you recognize these really common words when they come up, that’ll free your brain to listen to what else is being said, hopefully. It’s still a kind of magical process (and truthfully, the TV is often WAY to fast), but maybe this’ll help.

I’ve left out anything related to specific sports or events. You’re on your own for those as well as the ubiquitous (and often baffling) country names.


  • niǎocháo 鸟巢 = The Bird’s Nest (the main stadium)
  • shuǐ lìfāng 水立方 = The Water Cube (the swimming venue)


  • jīnpái 金牌 = gold medal
  • yínpái 银牌 = silver medal
  • tóngpái 铜牌 = bronze medal
  • kuài = (measure word for medals)
  • bānjiǎng 颁奖 = to award a medal
  • guànjūn 冠军 = champion



  • duì = team
    • zhōngguó duì 中国队 = China’s team (in whatever sport)
      *They don’t say in sports it’s “China v. America” they always say it’s “China’s team v. America’s team” (I guess so people don’t think those players out there ARE the whole country. Whew! Thanks for the clarification.)
  • dàibiǎo tuán 代表团 = delegation [represent group]
  • xuǎnshǒu 选手 = contestant [choose hand]
    • shíwǔ hào xuǎnshǒu 十五号选手 = contestant/player number 15
    • míng = (classifier for famous/honored people)
    • yì míng xuǎnshǒu 一名选手 = a contestant
  • duìshǒu 对手 = opponent [against hand]


  • chǎng = (measure word for sports events)
  • lún = round (of a sporting event)
  • juésài 决赛 = final round
  • zàntíng 暂停 = timeout
  • shīwù 失误 = mistake/fault
  • fēn(r) () = point/points (score)
    *a lot of commentators are from north where that “-r” gets added

Exclamations (by commentators)

(In alphabetical order. Of course, some of these will be appropriate for some events more than others.)

  • chūsè 出色 = outstanding [out-color]
  • hǎoqiú 好球 = good shot (in any ball or “ballish” sport)
  • piàoliang 漂亮 = beautiful
  • qiǎomiào 巧妙 = clever
  • jīngcǎi 精彩 = brilliant / spectacular
  • kěxī 可惜 = too bad
  • shǎnshè 闪射 = shining
  • yíhàn 遗憾 = too bad / regretful
  • jiāyóu 加油 = Come on! (cheering someone on)
    *I had to add this, even though it’s not really the commentators who say it

If anyone has a suggestion for something that belongs on this list that isn’t here, please feel free to share (I may add more as the weeks go on too).

10 Replies to “Stuff You Might Be Hearing: Olympics TV”

  1. SOME

    diǎn huǒ yíshì点火仪式 lighting of the (Olympic) caularon

    guànjūn 冠军 champion
    yàjūn 亚军 the second
    jìjūn 季军 the third

    dādàng 搭档 a partner
    duìyǒu 队友 teammate
    jiàoliàn 教练 conditioner / coach

    jiāshísài加时赛 extra time

    duójīn 夺金 win gold (medal)
    B bàigěi 败给A B Lost to A
    dǎbài 打败/ jībài击败 beat
    měnggōng 猛攻 storm
    lǐngxiān 领先 = one-up
    dǎ pò jìlù 打破记录 break the record

    fǎnchāo 反超 : the lost scored then being in the lead
    bānpíng 扳平 ~ equlizescore

    piàoliàng漂亮 excellent / Well done!
    qǐng qǐlì 请起立 please stand

  2. Not a matter of one being more “proper” than the other. (After all, who decides what’s “proper”?)

    Frankly, I find “what a pity” a bit stilted. It’s the kind of thing you frequently find in English textbooks published in China and written by Chinese people who speak fairly good English, but who haven’t spent enough time in an English-speaking country to have mastered the colloquial register of English. If you google “what a pity”, you’ll find the expression used more on sites where English is being used as an auxiliary language, in literary contexts etc.

    If you want to translate 可惜 into colloquial, natural English, “too bad” is just fine in most cases. Check a good bilingual dictionary and you’ll find both “what a pity” and “too bad” listed as equivalents for 可惜.

  3. Often at the end of of a medal ceremony, one would here in French, English, and Mandarin: “Ladies and Gentleman, the Olympic Medalists!”

    Does anyone happen to know the Mandarin for this part?

  4. Pingback: Helpful Olympic Chinese vocab | China Hope Live

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