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Medals donít bring bread
New law ushers a ray of hope

Every child in China is born with a dream to become Olympic champion, and if not, then at least one at national level. Young Chinese leave school with the belief that their huge sports bureaucracy would take care of them. Little education and total ignorance of real world leads them to a miserable life. They are left with no option but to indulge in physical labour. There are many world champions who are rendered jobless after retirement. Their medals prove to be worthless, and finally, they end up selling those glorious medals in order to feed themselves and their families. The Chinese system is very efficient in producing Olympic medalists who eventually end up as poverty-stricken jobless athletes. Chinese national news agency Xinhua divulged in 2006 that about 6,000 athletes retire from competition annually & lead their lives in desolation.

Internationally-famousmarathon players like Ai Dongmei had no option but to sell her medals to feed family after retirement. Ex-Asian weightlifting champion died of Pneumonia at the age of 33, as she failed to finance her medical bills & expenditure. Acrobat & Gymnast Liu Fei who represented China, and won the world championship in acrobatic gymnastic besides winning national champions seven times is today surviving on a meager $20 that she earns from gymnastic tutorials. Reports further reveal that 80% of Chinaís 300,000 retired athletes are fighting redundancy, injury & poverty. Sports injury & health problems are some of the major issues concerning the former athletes and sports persons. Sports associations that once cared for athletes from cradle to grave have now succumbed to market forces (capitalism). Once termed as the legacy of the Chinese economic development, these very sports persons are now left uncared by the sports system. However, the introduction of a new law, barring the recruitment of undergraduate professional athletes, is poised to benefit the entire sports fraternity. The condition must change!

Akram Hoque

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