China introduces 'happy gymnastics' to replace students' grind [Photos]

Giggling children having fun and attempting sports is a rare sight in China where gym lessons usually evokes stereotypical images of tearful children.

Omkar Patne July 13, 2016 18:26:34 IST
A child is supported on a balance beam at the Inspire Sports private gym in Shanghai, China. The scene of giggling children having fun and attempting somersaults or gingerly walking on low balance beam is a rare sight in China where gym lessons usually evokes stereotypical images of tearful children practicing splits. However Chinese sports officials believe this sort of spontaneous interest in the sport is a welcome step to fundamentally change China's current elite sports system. AP 
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A child is supported on a balance beam at the Inspire Sports private gym in Shanghai, China. The scene of giggling children having fun and attempting somersaults or gingerly walking on low balance beam is a rare sight in China where gym lessons usually evokes stereotypical images of tearful children practicing splits. However Chinese sports officials believe this sort of spontaneous interest in the sport is a welcome step to fundamentally change China's current elite sports system. AP 
A young child practices on still rings at the Xuhui Sports School near the slogans "Set ambitious goals from young" in Shanghai, China. The Xuhui Sports School is representative of the state-led sports training system established in the 1950s to churn out hundreds of Olympic gold medalists and world champions but increasingly voices of criticism have grown decrying the state system for its notoriously ruthless, rigid training regimes, exploitation of young athletes and proclivity for dishonest practices such as game rigging. AP 
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A young child practices on still rings at the Xuhui Sports School near the slogans "Set ambitious goals from young" in Shanghai, China. The Xuhui Sports School is representative of the state-led sports training system established in the 1950s to churn out hundreds of Olympic gold medalists and world champions but increasingly voices of criticism have grown decrying the state system for its notoriously ruthless, rigid training regimes, exploitation of young athletes and proclivity for dishonest practices such as game rigging. AP 
A boy gets help stretching his legs while doing a handstand during training at the Xuhui Sports School in Shanghai, China. Taking cues from gymnastics powerhouses such as the United States and Japan, Chinese sports officials believe the answer lies with popularizing sports. AP
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A boy gets help stretching his legs while doing a handstand during training at the Xuhui Sports School in Shanghai, China. Taking cues from gymnastics powerhouses such as the United States and Japan, Chinese sports officials believe the answer lies with popularizing sports. AP
A young gymnast trains at the Xuhui Sports School in Shanghai, China. There are strong efforts to reform the state-led system, which is struggling to recruit the next generation of stars despite its glorious records of churning out hundreds of Olympic gold medalists and world champions. AP 
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A young gymnast trains at the Xuhui Sports School in Shanghai, China. There are strong efforts to reform the state-led system, which is struggling to recruit the next generation of stars despite its glorious records of churning out hundreds of Olympic gold medalists and world champions. AP 
A young gymnast trains near the Chinese national flag at the Xuhui Sports School in Shanghai, China. After growing discontent amid people over the rigorous sports training policy in the state, China is now in the process of reforming its sports policy to maintain its top spot in the Olympics. AP
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A young gymnast trains near the Chinese national flag at the Xuhui Sports School in Shanghai, China. After growing discontent amid people over the rigorous sports training policy in the state, China is now in the process of reforming its sports policy to maintain its top spot in the Olympics. AP
A young gymnast trains at the Xuhui Sports School in Shanghai, China. The current system is to rally national resources to train a few to win the Olympic golds and win honors for the country," said Xiong Xiaozheng, a retired sports professor in Beijing. "But this strategy no longer works with today's society, and is losing its advantages. AP
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A young gymnast trains at the Xuhui Sports School in Shanghai, China. The current system is to rally national resources to train a few to win the Olympic golds and win honors for the country," said Xiong Xiaozheng, a retired sports professor in Beijing. "But this strategy no longer works with today's society, and is losing its advantages. AP
Less than one percent of athletes reach the apex and are generously rewarded with fame and cash. They become household names, or even national heroes, with glowing reports published in state media. Those who fall off the path often find themselves tossed back into a bewildering society with inadequate academic preparations or social skills. AP
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Less than one percent of athletes reach the apex and are generously rewarded with fame and cash. They become household names, or even national heroes, with glowing reports published in state media. Those who fall off the path often find themselves tossed back into a bewildering society with inadequate academic preparations or social skills. AP
In a room full of bright-colored cubes and giant mattresses, giggling children climb bars, try somersaults and walk gingerly on a low balance beam. China is trying to rejig its sports training policy to attract parents and kids to participate in sports. AP
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In a room full of bright-colored cubes and giant mattresses, giggling children climb bars, try somersaults and walk gingerly on a low balance beam. China is trying to rejig its sports training policy to attract parents and kids to participate in sports. AP
A child enjoys swinging on still rings during classes at the Inspire Sports private gym in Shanghai, China. The scene of giggling children having fun and attempting somersaults or gingerly walking on low balance beam is a rare sight in China where gym lessons usually evokes stereotypical images of tearful children practicing splits. However Chinese sports officials believe this sort of spontaneous interest in the sport is a welcome step to fundamentally change China's current elite sports system. AP 
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A child enjoys swinging on still rings during classes at the Inspire Sports private gym in Shanghai, China. The scene of giggling children having fun and attempting somersaults or gingerly walking on low balance beam is a rare sight in China where gym lessons usually evokes stereotypical images of tearful children practicing splits. However Chinese sports officials believe this sort of spontaneous interest in the sport is a welcome step to fundamentally change China's current elite sports system. AP