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How It’s Like For Chinese Olympians; From Being Born to Being Discarded to the Streets

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How It's Like For China Sport Schools where Olympic Champions are Born - World Of Buzz


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I’m sure most of us have already heard how strict China is in regards to most things, from university studies to athlete training. This is mainly due to the high population of the country, so much so that people there are considered disposable.

Young athletes who are building a future towards the Olympics in China are placed into sports schools as young as 6 years old. The children are “trained and disciplined” to be tough and flawless — churned into Olympic champions.

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Image source: Daily Mail/Reuters

Pictures of crying kids carrying out exercises illustrate the pain and hardship that the China’s heroes endured before achieving perfection.

However, today, things are now slowly changing, reports Daily Mail.

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Image source: Daily Mail/Reuters

As China’s economy blossoms, good education is more accessible. Hence the people’s interest have slowly shifted towards cultural education causing the sports schools that were popular back in the 1980s to dwindle in numbers.

In the 1980s and 1990s, schools like ours were extremely attractive,” Huang Qin the committee secretary from Shanghai’s No.1 Children’s Sports School Pudong New Area shares.

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Image source: Daily Mail/Reuters

“(But) parents are less willing now to send their child to sports schools.

“The source of students for sports schools has shrunk as society placed more importance on cultural education.”

However, this has improved it’s teachers’ training and broke a 40-year tradition that stipulates students to study, train and live on campus full-time by also introducing education for athletes.

By doing so, sport students who drop out or did not make the cut will at least have a better chance of survival in the real world.

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Image source: Daily Mail/Reuters

China being a country amongst the most competitive in the Games has reaped much glory from its victories. But behind those winnings are untold dark tales of almost-glories where Olympic athletes that don’t make it are simply dropped off the program with no safety net or compensation, reports NextShark.

Zhang Shangwu was only 12 when he was that ‘one-in-a-million’ picked to trained towards the Olympic Games. At the age of 18, Zhang had proven to be a brilliant gymnast taking home two gold medals at the Beijing Summer Universiade 2001.

How It's Like For China Sport Schools where Olympic Champions are Born - World Of Buzz 1

For a short time, he was known as a ‘rising star’ of the sport until his dreams were crushed when he tore his Achilles tendon during practice the following year. The injury was his roadblock from qualifying for the Games in 2004 and he fully dropped out of the program in 2005, sans benefits.

Zhang left the program to become a lowly street performer performing his old gymnast stunts and even sold his gold medals for US $15 (RM60) each. Truly a sad scene.

Long story short, he became homeless, slept under bridges and was later arrested for theft — he was sentenced 4.5 years behind bars.

A Bleak Future for failed Chinese Olympians - World Of Buzz 6
Zhang trying to earn some money by being a street performer

It’s truly a great fall from glory and these stories often die with the fallen.

In fact in 2010, approximately 45% of Chinese athletes will go in non-employment once they have retired from sports.

Of the 33,294 active athletes in the country, only 17,444 are officially on the payroll, and those qualified for benefits will receive a meager compensation of about US $150/month (that’s approx. RM606/month).

A Bleak Future for failed Chinese Olympians - World Of Buzz 4

Liu Chengju, once a professional weightlifter is also a victim of the harsh reality once her sports career ended. In 2013 she was diagnosed with breast cancer and now has a debt of 70,000 Yuan (RM42,500).

“I went to the sports college at 15 and I retired at 25. This ten-year-stretch of my life was like blank space—it slipped away in an instant,” she told Sina News.

For the sakes of our heroes, let’s hope a rightful compensation is in place to carry them through as they have dedicated their lives to make our country proud.


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