China has hosted Olympic Games. The past thirty years have been decades of remarkable growth in China. From a nation that could hardly secure a medal in the games, China is today a sports superpower, finishing among the top five medal contenders. This remarkable change in China has been largely brought about by a sports system that is dedicated to building champions who can compete at the highest levels and win.
All socialist and totalitarian countries are driven by massive bureaucracies. This is so in China as well. But the distinguishing aspect about China is its ideology of nationalism. This idea of nationalism promotes the quest for excellence in every endeavor, in which sports is just one aspect. To excel in sports, in China, now is connected to national self-esteem.
One of the most vital elements that have gone into making China into a sporting giant is its sports schools. This is a system largely borrowed from the former Soviet Union. China has built around 3,000 sports schools, among which about 100 schools are considered most prestigious are boarding schools. There are 300,000 students in these schools approximately. The entire system is managed by a central body – the China Sports Bureau.
Students who are enrolled into these schools are selected through talent scouts. These scouts tour the regular schools in all provinces of the country to select talents that can be honed. Once a student is selected, their bodies are tested to verify whether it suitable for them to excel in certain sport. After this, their parents are encouraged to send the child to a sports school.
At the sports school, students have to undergo a rigorous process of training and education. Those who succeed at this level are sent up to the provincial teams. China also has the National Training Center of the State Sports General Administration. The huge complex of buildings is host to several Chinese national teams. Diving, Swimming, Badminton, Volleyball, Table Tennis, Weightlifting and Track and Field are some notable ones.
The sportspersons at this center train all the year round and live in apartments nearby. The training center just has one objective – to produce Olympic champions.
All the endeavors have collectively led to China steadily rising up the medals map. In 1988, the Chinese won five golds, in 2004, this figure rose up to 32.
The communist regime there has had to confront quite a lot of protests from Tibetan activists for its totalitarian policies. But China has received worldwide support and no country has proclaimed its boycott from the 2008 Beijing games as yet. China is likely to excel in these games, providing a stiff challenge to US and Europe in the medals tally.