Chinese gymnastics school prepares children for Olympic glory. China has attracted legions of critics, but has also made it one of the most successful Olympic nations. Beneath the twin emblems of the Chinese flag and Olympic rings, two boys dangle from a high bar in a massive gymnasium, home to China’s elite gymnasts.
Elsewhere, rows of children as young as four hold splits and handstands under the watchful eye of coaches from the Li Xiaoshuang Gymnastics School in Xiantao, west of Wuhan. They are among the latest recruits from China’s notoriously demanding state sports system, which has attracted legions of critics but has also made it one of the most successful Olympic nations.
Despite the tough nature of the exercises, school officials say the focus now is on keeping the kids entertained – “happy gymnastics” – rather than ways to win medals.