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19 Startling Facts About Chinese Olympic Training

The training practices of other countries often go unnoticed, but it's time to bring awareness to some of the abusive conditions that Chinese Olympic Athletes are forced to train under.

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1. In 2008, 30,000 athletes trained full time for the Beijing Olympics

Factsanddetails.com / Via dailymail.co.uk

For those who train full-time for the olympics, little attention is given to other life skills such as education and social maturity.

2. Out of those 30,000 athletes, only 1/5 actually made it to the olympics

factsanddetails.com / Via zimbio.com

In addition to the 30,000 full-time training athletes, many others are involved in sports camps to make it to the olympics. However, out of all the athletes in sports camps, only 1 in 899 actually make it to the olympic games.

3. The government begins recruiting children at ages as young as 6 for certain sports

factsanddetails.com / Via sport.malaysia.msn.com

China-born, Los Angeles Times journalist Ni Ching Ching wrote: “When I was in the first grade, scouts from the Communist sports machinery came to our school to hunt for future champions. The event was diving. Never mind that I couldn’t swim and had no desire to be an athlete, I was told I had the right proportions and good feet. Chosen from a field of thousands to train at a state sports school, I was supposed to be thrilled to serve my country.”

4. In the 2000 Sydney Olympics, one Chinese gymnast was stripped of her bronze metal because she was too young to compete in the olympics

Dong Fangxiao was among many Chinese athletes that have competed in the olympic games. She was 14 when she competed as a gymnast in the Sydney olympics and the minimum age to compete was 16.

5. Chinese children are recruited for certain sports based on their future predicted height, weight, bone density, arm span, and flexibility.

Government recruiters are sent to elementary schools to search for the perfect body type for each sport.

6. Once they have been recruited, children are sent to training camps and isolated from their family and friends

Via mjemagazine.com

The Chinese government works hard to shelter their athletes in training camps, but due to this isolation child athletes are never given a chance to develop basic life skills.

7. Family tragedies and deaths are often hidden from children in training so as not to distract them.

The death of her grandmother and her mothers diagnosis of cancer were kept from Chinese diver Wu Minxia to avoid distracting her from training for the London olympics.

8. Chinese gymnasts are typically removed from their families to begin training in a camp between the ages of 4 and 8

Via defence.pk

This is considered the most crucial time to determine wether or not the child will be able to win the olympics.

10. Sports Illustrated journalists have found evidence of many illegal and unethical practices surrounding Chinese Olympic Training, including performance-enhancing drugs and bought-out contracts.

Because of the extreme pressure to succeed, some athletes resort to illegal methods of enhancement.

11. Many athletes are fed special diets with special herbs and exotic Chinese medicines

Via firepost.com

Swimmers have been fed a concoction containing ginseng and deer horn while runners under the infamous coach Ma Junren were given an elixir made of fresh turtle blood.

12. Athletes are also restricted from use of technology while they train

factsanddetails.com / Via news.com.au

No cell phones or computers are allowed except for during a short period in the evening. Olympic swimmer Ye Shiwen was forced to give up their cell phone all-together during training.

13. Olympic gymnast hopefuls in China sometimes train for up to 8 hours a day, 6 days a week.

radaronline.com / Via london2012.blogs.nytimes

According to teachers, they don’t get any holiday because a break from training for even a month would make the youngsters rusty, reported the Telegraph.co.uk.

14. Basketball star Yao Ming was sent to a full-time sports academy at age 12, and admits that he didn’t even enjoy playing the sport until around age 18.

Athletes are often forced into sports, wether they enjoy them or not, and are expected to bring glory to China.

15. Earning gold medals is only focus of the Chinese government; even silver medalists are looked down upon.

“China celebrates its gold medal winners with loud applause and its silver-lists with no acknowledgement at all” said Chris Aaron in the article "Is China’s Olympic Training Program Too Much?"

16. China Sports Daily estimates that 80 percent of China’s retired athletes suffer from unemployment, poverty or chronic health problems resulting from overtraining.

In addition to being viewed as a disappointment in the governments' eyes, athletes who do not bring home a gold medal are left to fend for themselves on the streets with few life skills and little education.

17. Chinese ex-Olympians sometimes end up as beggars due to their limited skill set and lack of government support

According to an article published in Business Insider, after returning to China “less successful athletes have much less to fall back on and state media have reported a number of cases of retired national champions struggling with long-term injuries and poverty” (Ransom and McNeil).

18. Meanwhile, athletes who win the gold are showered in praise and rewards and are provided with a free education to make up for the school they have missed

Via news.xinhuanet.com

The athletes are only compensated if they are successful in the Olympics but are not compensated for the time they spend training.

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