Chinese Olympians captured 51 gold medals at the 2008 Summer Games, the most of any country represented at the Beijing Olympics.
And they weren't even near the peak of their performance.
Now, at the 2012 Summer Games in London, Chinese athletes are more prepared than ever to take on the world, thanks to the support of an internationally renowned performance training institution based right here in the United States.
Athletes' Performance is helping change the landscape of athletic development in China, starting at the top with the country's Olympic competitors. The U.S. leader in sports training has partnered with the Chinese Olympic Committee to support its efforts of integrating performance training, nutrition, physical therapy and research into a single comprehensive athletic development program.
Before engaging Athletes' Performance, the COC operated these important components of athletic development separately, or, in some cases, not at all. "The concept of a highly-educated, well-trained individual who is up-to-date with cutting-edge information about sports medicine like an athletic trainer would be, or functional training like a certified strength and conditioning coach would be, those people just don't exist there," says Marty Weems, vice president of international business development at AP and leader of the engagement with the COC. "They have not developed these types of coaches, they're not in the pipeline, but it's something they want."
AP's expert staff worked hands-on with the COC, its athletes and coaches, implementing the same innovative methods they use with their all-star roster of MLB, NFL and NHL clients.
"They wanted something similar to that, but ultimately, it had to be in a Chinese manner," Weems says. "Everything the Chinese adopt gets adapted and molded to fit their culture and their reality."
According to Weems, Chinese athletes have a deep level of commitment to perfecting their craft, which he credits as the foundation of their athletic excellence. "You will not outwork the Chinese athletes," he says, "you will not out-practice them. They put in more hours of practice every day for years of their life beyond anything the typical Western athlete is willing to do.
"They know how to execute the activity, and it plays well in the events they do well—table tennis, diving, swimming, gymnastics. If you look at where they've been successful, that approach has been incredibly useful."
Team China had the hometown advantage at the 2008 Games in Beijing. Now the world will see what the nation is capable of achieving with the Athletes' Performance edge in London.
Photo: Courtesy of Athletes' Performance
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