August 15, 2008 / 3:10 PM / in 11 years

China feel the pinch of one child policy

BEIJING (Reuters) - The pool of talented gymnasts in China has been in decline because of the country’s one child per family policy, women’s team coach Liu Qunlin said on Friday.

“Because currently most Chinese families have only one child, this has been lowering our resources a bit,” said Liu, who helped the women’s team to claim gold at the Beijing Olympics.

Despite the coach’s fears, China have so far dominated these Games.

The hosts have claimed both men’s and women’s team titles, while Yang Wei was crowned champion in the men’s all-around event.

The winning run was snapped on Friday when American Nastia Liukin won the women’s individual event but China did not leave empty handed as teenager Yang Yilin won a bronze.

Due to the risk of ending up without a medal or sufficient education under the national sport system, many parents are unwilling to let their only child commit to a sporting career, said Ye Qiaobo, China’s first Winter Olympics medalist and an advisor to the parliament.

Children who take up gymnastics need to commit themselves to stringent and lengthy training sessions on a daily basis from a very young age, and hence parents are wary of allowing their offspring to start the sport.

However, women’s team head Lu Shanzhen hopes China’s success over the past week will encourage more children to take part, especially since they do not want to be overtaken by other leading countries such as the United States.

“This gold medal could enlarge the gymnastics population in China and attract more children to this sport,” he said.

Apart from the medals, the highly technical and charming performances the Chinese gymnasts have delivered showed the attractiveness of this sport to the younger generation, said Lu.

“We will enjoy a broader basis and stronger influence. More and more people will love and practice gymnastics,” added Liu.

With a population of 1.3 billion, Lu believed China could remain a top gymnastics force.

“In the future Chinese gymnastics will be stronger and stronger.” he said.

Editing by Miles Evans

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