The Price of Gold

One by one, the little girls walk to the wooden blocks and extend their legs into the splits, one callused foot balancing on each block, their straining bodies hovering just above the ground. Coach Yang Yaojun, his sweatpants hiked high over his belly, ambles over to the girls, smiles and hands the nearest one a stopwatch. The girls, who are six and seven years old, do not smile back. Teetering on the blocks, they wait as Yang straddles each leg in turn, resting his 70-kg frame on their outstretched limbs. No matter how tough the girls are, no matter how much...

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