some of the more telling passages to me from a brilliant article about Liu Xiang, china’s great hope at Beijing 2008:
At the 2000 Sydney Olympics, China finished third in gold medals with 28, its most ever. But within this success, officials also saw a telling disparity: 21 of those medals came in table tennis, diving, badminton, weight lifting and gymnastics. China struggled in other sports, especially in swimming; other water sports like rowing; and track and field. At the time, these events offered 119 potential gold medals, yet China won only 1 in Sydney. Thus was born Project 119: a government program that has poured money into these sports in pursuit of a larger share of those medals (the total is now 122). New training centers were built. Foreign coaches were hired for water polo, synchronized swimming, canoeing and rowing, as well as for other events like field hockey, fencing, basketball and cycling. The program bore fruit in Athens, where China won 32 gold medals, second only to the United States.
..and even more interesting is the way they implemented ‘project 119’:
Doctors and coaches examined and tested his bone structure, concluding he would not grow tall enough to be an elite high jumper. This selection process, so Orwellian to Western sensibilities, is not unusual in Chinese sports schools. A system so intensely focused on producing Olympic champions regards X-rays and bone tests as practical tools to help project which kid among thousands might one day become a medalist.
we ? we have athletes who have to fund themselves for the olympics. who have to make do with substandard training and substandard coaches, coz the government will not provide enough for them to actually focus on something that they actually want to do.
who are all moved to goddamn cricket coz thats the only place where the money is. even if we do suck at that too.