There's a first time for everything, as the saying goes, and the most recent Olympic Games in Beijing was no exception. Michael Phelps collected the most gold medals at a single Olympics, breaking a 36-year record held since 1972. Three American women swept all the medals in women's saber fencing. The tiny West African country of Togo took home its first-ever Olympic medal in kayaking. Mongolia garnered its first gold medal in wrestling. And for the first time ever, all of the Olympic athletes were able to enjoy the benefits of acupuncture and Oriental medicine.
The Olympic Village, which houses the athletes for the duration of the games, boasted a medical clinic open 24/7. Athletes and officials could get a variety of medical services, ranging from outpatient surgery to dermatology to dentistry. According to Wang Weidong, director of the clinic's Department of Chinese Traditional Medicine, "This is the first time an Olympic Village has offered acupuncture. I hope the service we provide here relieves athletes' aches and pains, and also expands the influence of traditional Chinese medicine." He added, "Acupuncture relieves pain and is a therapeutic treatment of chronic injuries. It is also an effective remedy for headaches and insomnia."
Four volunteer acupuncturists from Guang An Men Hospital, which is affiliated with the China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences, worked at first only on officials or coaches. However, as word spread, some of the athletes began to show up.
One convert to the benefits of AOM was the Canadian gymnastics coach, Tony Smith, who told the China Daily newspaper he had been suffering from lower back pain and decided to see if acupuncture could help. "I thought I should give Chinese acupuncture a try, and found it really relieves the pain," he said. "I'll try it again this week. If it still works, I'll carry on with the treatment when I get back to Canada."
Smith added that he was so impressed with his results that he intends to recommend acupuncture to his athletes.