In the pursuit of Olympic glory, athletes around the globe immerse themselves into a world of intense training, exceptionally high expectations, and immense pressure. In the case of young Chinese gymnasts, the pressures, expectations and intense training sessions are imposed upon them from as early as five years old. The results stemming from this type of system have many negative outcomes and few results are positive.
Through our various RSS classes relating to physical and mental well-being, we have identified several issues and negative outcomes of the Chinese training regimes.
These include but are not limited to:
- Lack of education
- Questionable diet
- Intense training – questionable training techniques
- Very little time to be a child – play
- Lack of body maturation
- Forced into training schools
- Exceptionally high expectations – realistic?
In saying that, not all feel that this type of training is inappropriate. There are several success stories of Chinese athletes making it “to the big stage”. Many feel that being an World champion or an Olympian far outweigh the negative impacts of training.
There are many reasons why athletes feel this way. Some of the reasons include:
- Economic benefits
- To be recognized – status in the country
- Prepares them for the “real world”
- Conforming to social norms (belief that you will not be a lazy person)
We feel that China’s reasoning for training this way is not simply for punishing and torturing the athletes. We feel that their culture and morals are very different from Western countries in terms of reasons for playing sport. Some feel the need to play and train in sport because intrinsic factors (love of the game), and some do it for extrinsic factors (economic benefits).
What are your thoughts on the training strategies China puts their athletes through?
Below are a couple of videos that really capture the intensity and controversy of the training regimes for the youth gymnasts in China.