Welcome to the first of a new and upcoming feature on MVN: Quick Hits
MVN is getting ready to roll out a new sitewide design and one of the new features is Quick Hits: posts containing short, undeveloped thoughts for your interest and commentary. I’m going to jump the gun here and post Quick Hits before the redesign kicks in.
There is an article in the New York Times today about table tennis player Wang Chen. Chen emigrated from China and will play play table tennis for the U.S. this summer at the Olympic Games in Beijing. When she was a first grader in China, she was chosen to train at a national sports training center because she managed to land three table tennis balls in a small basket.
For a first grader that’s pretty good but it’s hardly the sophisticated culling process I would expect. What, no fast twitch muscle tests or adult growth projections? No review of parental athletic genes? No DNA tests? I’m being a bit sarcastic but my point is that youngsters are plucked out of school and sent off to training centers by age 9 based on rather arbitrary criteria to be professional athletes. In Wang’s case, she was training eight hours a day by the time she was 11 years old.
Keep in mind that most Chinese families are allowed one child only so these kids are removed from their one-child families to become, literally, arms for the great country of China. I assume Chinese tennis players follow a similar path.
That feels like a pretty tough life to me. What do you think?