China’s Medal Mill

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:

79 thoughts on “China’s Medal Mill”

  1. Keep wishing… If communist can evolve from old school communism to state capitalism, I am fairly confident that it can evolve into something more suitable for the future when people becomes really discotent. It is willing to adapt and change, it has to, if it wants to continue the ruling. And they very well know that.

  2. I have no intention of freeing China from her miseries.

    That’s up to the Chinese people to do.

    And they will.


    As soon as the state capitalism that replaced old school communism makes enough people miserable.


  3. Sigh, why am I wasting time here with you, Gene. I got to the point that I was so fed up with ur posting I read one paragraph then I stopped. Why am I wasting my perfect good Saturday afternoon with you here on the Internet, shame on me. Now, off to the gym, massage and Yunnan restaurant with my very hot fiancé… I suffer terribly in the communist country, Gene. But please, don’t cry for me, Gene… I will be OK. At least until you come to free us all from our miseries…

  4. Ooo. Very clever. Change topics. When the original subject is brought up and your obvious tactic pointed out, instead of just leaving, you instead double down and admit that the original topic has merit and continue your criticism of our government again hoping to deflect and distract.

    I’ll tell you what. When your country does something to address the human rights abuses and the anti-competitive abusive labor practices and the stealing of intellectual property? Then you can criticize America all you like without having your beloved China called to task for their own sins.

    I don’t give a rat’s ass who or what you are. My analysis has nothing to do with you and everything to do with your conversational tactics. To wit, your first comment:

    “Not easy to see. However, American kids go through the same hardship to succeed. Most of Chinese kids do have health care. In fact, universal coverage will be reality in three to five years. Mind your own business, grow your own economy, find ways to create more jobs, take care of your own sick, stop all the criticism, and pay off of your debt. Thanks.”

    An excuse (you do it too!) followed by totally unrelated criticism with each subsequent post growing more and more off topic and critical but steering away from the draconian and cruel PRC endorsed child training regimen for the Olympics. When you’ve played out this tactic long enough to be hung with it and you get called, you stall. Then you reverse and say something totally counter to your initial statement of “Not easy to see. However, American kids go through the same hardship to succeed.” when you said ““I for one, don’t agree with the medal mill concept.” So which is it? Hard to see and the same as Americans do or a concept you don’t agree with? Or is it now an program with “hidden cost is what u see here, the harsh training and even with the parents consent and that the kids can withdraw anytime, it is still very hard to say its not child abuse.”? Your contradictions are tripping up your story.

    Look, it’s not your fault you stumbled into a place with an expert on propaganda but the reversal and the double down on the criticism when your tactic got busted wasn’t the right move either. Also, although I noticed your pattern immediately, I did wait until someone else brought up you being a propaganda troll before taking you apart. I did this for two reasons: 1) I like to play with my food and 2) I was wondering how effective the lessons in anti-propaganda had been and Lottakatz did not disappoint me in demonstrating her sharp eye and skills. Disliking China’s government isn’t anything like homophobia and that’s a false equivalence (NOTE TO CLASS: see the multiple fallacies in the arguments of distraction put forth in Xx’s posts?). Technically speaking, LK made up her mind and I backed her up.

    Disliking China’s government only requires one pay attention to the oppressive tactics they use on their citizens and the anti-competitive tactics they use in industry. You want to cheer lead for them? Knock yourself out. But in this forum, your cheers will be challenged on a factual basis whether you are a paid propagandist or merely a true believing housewife. Because that’s how free speech works. You’re free to say whatever you like here. You are not free to have it go unchallenged, unanalyzed, uncriticized and you most certainly are not owed agreement. If that presents a problem for you? I’m most unsympathetic.

  5. Gene. When u r ready to smear people, u really do a fine job. I am regular mid age Chinese woman who happen to like my country, who happen to like my life, so I am evil, and I am hired by my government?
    You are really good at this. No wonder many Americans travel outside of the US wears Canadian symbol on their backpack… You are like a wolf! When u decide who I should be, that is who I am, no matter what the truth is. No wonder it was so easy to start the war in Iraq. You are determined that they have massive nuclear weapon. But whether it’s true or not doesn’t matter any more. When u make up your mind, it becomes the truth. That’s scary. You operate this way, so is your government. That is freaken scary…l

  6. No, I got off of the topic when the talk about children turned political. I didn’t start it.
    In the middle of the talk, someone even throw in something like they make their women bind their feet…. My action was simply reaction to the ridiculous direction the conversation turned to.
    European women were forced to bind their waist too. But that was how long ago?

    Anyway, I never praised the child abuse. It’s ridiculous. My daughter went to ballet lessons before and the teacher sat on her foot to “help” her! I cursed at her and pull her out immediately. She defend herself by saying it was for her own good, I told her she was one center meter away from getting involved in a lawsuit…

  7. What? It takes 20 minutes to figure out that your only way out of this trap is to chew your own foot off at the ankle?

    If you can, pass the blame on to whoever supposedly did the research before handing out assignments. You guys did research on venues, right? You didn’t just reflexively attack targets of opportunity based on search engine results, did you? My but that haste can make waste.

  8. Oh, and thanks for giving me more material for my forthcoming article about silence as propaganda, Xx.

    The materialistic drive is also behind this.
    For example, The2012 Olympic gold medalist Zou Kai, will get over 800,000 USD in prize money instantly in return for his achievement. In addition, there will be commercials shotting etc. Liu Xiang, the 110 hudderler made millions very year in commercial shotting alone. The greed is also the huge driving force for the parents!

  10. “I for one, don’t agree with the medal mill concept.”

    Then why are you spending so much time trying to distract from that subject? If it is a topic of legitimate concern within China, one would think logically that exposing the problem to the rest of the world would be in the best interests of the Chinese people. Why? Because not talking about it only benefits the PRC government, certainly not the people. The drive off topic was spearheaded by you, Xx. Reviewing this thread makes that abundantly clear. That you’d try to back out now to save what credibility you have on this thread is not surprising but even expected from a professional propagandist. You should do more research into your target forums before starting your missions. This place is inherently propaganda unfriendly no matter what the source. In fact, there is an ongoing series of articles on the history of and how to recognize and combat propaganda.

    No one has to “evilize” China (in particular their government), Xx.

    They do a fine job of that themselves.

    If it helps you any, tell your bosses you walked into a loaded trap.

    Because that’s exactly what you did by trying your tactics here.

    Might I suggest an easier target. Say the Huffington Post?

  11. These pictures depict actions that I consider child abuse, at best. There is no sugarcoating or spinning of crap like this. These adults deserve a special place in Hell, no matter what country they are doing it for.

  12. Fair enough, Malisha.. I for one, don’t agree with the medal mill concept. It is estimated that 100,000 usd is needed for each gold medal earned. That is our tax dollars too. The cost of recruiting the young talent, to build special school, hire coaches nationally and internationally, send them abroad for training is enormous. The hidden cost is what u see here, the harsh training and even with the parents consent and that the kids can withdraw anytime, it is still very hard to say its not child abuse. The other hidden cost is, many children who you will never see in the Olympics don’t become the super stars. They spend so much time training, many of them eventually fall behind their peer and loses oppotunities later on in life. Many of them also do well and eventually go to really good universities. Bottom line is, it’s hard enough to keep up with other children academically even if you only train for an hour a day. It’s much harder now to recruit these kids and the parents are getting more reluctant to send their kids there. These photos are more of the extreme cases. People still get into sports because the love it. I think eventually, as more media exposure becomes available, schools like this will at least behave. There are a lot of media coverage in Chinese news about this lately too… A huge debate is going on. I just don’t like it when this issue is connected with other things to evilize china.
    These are the photos in Chinese media. Many Chinese are criticizing the current system, and demanded revolution in Chinese sports. If u can read Chinese, you should we are all on the same page.

    The article is a good one, we all got off of the topic.

  13. Blah blah blah. If you think you’re going to distract the point further, Xx, you’d best report back to your masters that you have failed.

    How about those training dungeons for children?

  14. By the way, when my daughter was born, she had a heart condition, she had to be hospitalized in NICU, which cost 25 Yuan for the bed per night without insurance coverage, That is 4 dollars a night. She stayed in the hospital for a month, and we paid the hospital fee for less than a fancy meal. What would happen if a child has to stay in NIcU for a month in America without insurance? I smell bankruptcy. In fact, a friend of mine told me the ICU per night cost 6,000 usd per night. Adenosine (to abort SVT) cost 1.2 yuan or 20 cents usd in China, while it costs 450 USD in America. Same drug. I know, because I had to use it when travelled to America. You tell me you have freedom from the interest group? No, you don’t. Demarcracy can work, not in America though.

  15. The fact that there is child abuse in every country does not change the fact that what the pictures show is child abuse. The fact that every government in the world, to one degree or another, abuses its own citizens does not make the abuse of any country’s citizens by its government acceptable. And the fact that we can show an expose of wrongdoing in another country does not mean that any of us believes that our country is without fault, either in international relations or in the conduct of internal affairs. In fact, those of us who often become the most appalled and indignant over the mistreatment of foreign people by foreign governments tend to be the same ones who express indignation over the mistreatment of Americans by the American government, as well.

    It’s about speaking up and carrying on when somebody defenseless is being hurt by someone powerful, deliberately, or recklessly, or otherwise inappropriately. It’s not OK and I don’t have to be any nationality to say so.

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