The 16-year-old, Ye Shiwen of China known as the ‘Mandarin Mermaid’ swam faster than US superstar Ryan Lochte. “It was pretty impressive. And, it was a female. She’s fast. If she was there with me, I don’t know, she might have beaten me” Lochte said.
Ye Shiwen said her extraordinary swim was the result of “hard work and training”.
In an effort to transform China into a global athletic power, the state-run athletics programs with a single-minded fixation on winning gold medals, earmark potential champions at a young age. Then, they haul those children away to camps and subject them to gruel training with its tough Soviet-style fitness programs.
At the London Olympics China’s star diver, 26-year-old Wu Minxia became the first diver ever to win golds at three consecutive games in the 3-meter synchronized springboard. She sacrificed her school education and family life to win the gold for her country.
Since the age of six, Wu trained daily at a diving camp and at 16 she had to move away from her family to live in a state-financed sports academy where training is grueling. She did not attend school. She had to dive all day for more than 10 years.
Wu Minxia rarely met her family members. Her parents followed her on Weibo, a Chinese microblogging site akin to a hybrid of Twitter and Facebook. In London, they could not meet her in person before the event. They watched their daughter perform from the stands. They had to withhold the news of her grandparents’ death for over a year. She was not even told that her mother had contracted cancer eight years ago. “We have known for years that our daughter did not belong to us anymore,” said Wu Yuming, her father.
Lin won a gold medal in men’s weight lifting. His father who had not seen him for six and a half years. He told reporters that he did not recognize his 23-year-old son until he heard his name mentioned on television.
Note: This five-part video presentation titled “How China trains (read: tortures!) its kids to become Olympic champions!” It vividly expounds the gruesome methods adopted by the Chinese coaches in training potential champions at a young age.
- How China trains (read: tortures!) its kids to become Olympic champions! Part 1/5 (youtube.com)
- How China trains (read: tortures!) its kids to become Olympic champions! Part 2/5 (youtube.com)
- How China trains (read: tortures!) its kids to become Olympic champions! Part 3/5 (youtube.com)
- How China trains (read: tortures!) its kids to become Olympic champions! Part 5/5 (youtube.com)
- Forging of the Mandarin mermaid: How Chinese children are taken away from their families and brutalised into future Olympians (dailymail.co.uk)
- China’s Olympics training program: Abusive? (theweek.com)
- Heavy Burden on Athletes Takes Joy Away From China’s Olympic Success (nytimes.com)
- Chinese Gymnasts Tortured Into Shape For The 2012 London Olympics (zazenlife.com)