Diving China's Chosen Ones

Plucked from home by age eight, trained in state secrecy and paid bonuses for victories that glorify their land, these competitors relive the heyday of Soviet-style sports factories

The use of Olympic athletes as instruments of state propaganda is widely in disrepute. Most of the totalitarian sports factories are being dismantled amid public disgust at the huge sums spent on facilities, the privileges and cash bestowed on winners, the epidemic abuse of steroids and other drugs and the emotional wreckage bred by taking children from parents at a tender age, training them obsessively for one task and tossing them aside when their competitive days are over. But in one nation, especially in one sport, the old ways are unrepentantly deployed. For China's divers, who are recruited starting at age...

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