For Chinese kids, Olympic training isn't child's play Published: 2012-8-1 21:18:00

Lian Peng, columnist

The nationwide athletic training system is just not natural; especially with sports such as gymnastics and weightlifting, which bring great harm to children's bodies. For underprivileged families, sending their children to train may be a way to better their future, but the chances their child will succeed are slim.  However, under the circumstances, we have to choose the lesser of two evils. It's a harsh reality, even if it is cruel and complicated.

@云碧丹华: I'm reminded of the Chinese proverb "the achievements of generals cost countless lives".  Producing champions like Li Ning or Liu Xiang is beside the point; there's no denying that such extreme, high-intensity training is harmful to one's health.  Remember, the glory of reaching the top does not benefit the majority.

@libf: Chinese gymnastic training can devastate the body of a child. But gymnasts from other countries also train this way, don't they? Or do they know a shortcut?

@李房桐:This is a social issue that is hard to resolve, just like our flawed education system where poor families do not have any other choice than to subject their children to the national college entrance examination. Similarly, why there are so many gymnastic champions from Xiantao, a small city in Hubei Province? Because it is a poor place, and many families don't have enough money to send their children to school, but they still have to find a future for them. Just like taking the gaokao, many children are willing to fight for a gold medal in order to improve the lives of their family.  

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