Yesterday at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, the Chinese couple Shen Xue (31) and Zhao Hongbo (36) won the gold medal in pairs figure skating.
The event has historic significance. It is China’s first gold medal in figure skating.
Shen and Zhao are the first Chinese champions in Olympic figure skating, the first non-Russian pair to take the Olympic figure skating gold medal since 1964.
Evora and Ladwig from the U.S. finished 10th in pair skating.
China’s winning was a surprise to the world.
I am sure there are many reasons for China’s rise in sports. One thing I know that makes a big difference lies in the way how athletes are raised in China.
In the U.S., parents have the sole responsibility to raise a young athlete. They have to sign them up for practices and games, drive them to practices and games, and pay everything out of their own pockets.
In China, I think the responsibility of raising young athletes is in the hands of the government. Talented kids are picked out at a young age to join the local municipal teams and get special training. The best athletes are then selected to move up to the state teams, and then up to the national teams. The government pays for all the training and expenses.
The talented and selected ones become professional athletes at a young age. They work hard for many years before they can compete in the national or international events. They live away from their parents and visit their families only for special holidays. It is really hard work and hard life.
As the result of many years of concentrated training and hard work, Chinese athletes are achieving more and higher.