By Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger
The sign above the gym floor contains one word, “Gold.” It’s a stark, relentless reminder to the children beneath it as to just what their mission requires. China’s obsession with winning Olympic gold has turned gymnasiums into dungeons for its youngest and most promising athletes. Starting at age five, children are subjected to strenuous training techniques like hanging on rails with their arms extended backwards, swinging on beams, and being given painful lessons on what it takes to beat all comers and particularly Americans. And the work seems to be paying off at the London games, as 16-year-old Ye Shiwen swam her way to a world record in the 400 meter individual medley beating the old record by almost one second. Her teammate, Sun Yang, won the 400m freestyle. Both attribute their success to “hard work and training.” And in China, that’s no sports cliché.
In a stinging expose, the UK’s Daily Mail parted the curtain of one of China’s most successful training facilities, the Nanning Gymnasium. The photographs speak for themselves.
Here are some pictures taken by the Daily Mail: