Originally Posted by GTR
It's called training. What do you believe American gymnasts do? No different to young athletes in the US spending 8 hours a day in a pool or on a tennis court. People choose to pursue gymnastics, no one is forcing them to become a gymnast.
You are clearly entirely unaware of how the Chinese athletic system works. Children are selected for these programs when they are extremely young (2-5 years old) and are sent thousands of miles away from homes and their parents, sequestered and trained nonstop. Training takes the place of schooling, family, and all other concerns. Those that excel remain in the programs until they make it to the Olympics. This is not a secret, it is not denied by the government, and it just is what it is.
It gets results, and I'm not even making any kind of value judgment here, but if you sincerely believe there is no difference between Chinese and American athletes when it comes to how and when they dedicate themselves to a sport, and the degree of self-direction involved, then you are either entirely uneducated on the subject, or hopelessly naive.