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Chinese Gymnasts

Chinese children who dream of a gymnastic career have a long way to go. There are three stages of training. Third-degree schools (the lowest) are responsible for talent selection. After a short trial period, children with potential continue training for two or three years on their own free time. The most talented children go to second-degree schools for intensive training. Here, they participate in nationwide competitions. Winning a medal is usually a passport to a first-degree school, which paves the way to an international career. A day in the Shanghai second-degree school, led by trainer Chen, begins with one hour of gymnastics. After breakfast, the children attend three hours of classes, followed by a lunch break and short recovery period before beginning another four hours of technical training. After a shower and dinner, the children go to more classes. At 9.15 p.m. everyone goes to bed. After such an exhausting day, sleep overcomes them, bringing dreams that are likely as regimented as their daily training routine.

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By  VNW