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Torture or training? Inside the brutal Chinese gymnasium where the country's future Olympic stars are beaten into shape >>READ MORE


Hard training: Her face etched with pain, a child trains for Olympic glory while her gymnastics trainer stands on her legs.


Her face etched with pain, a child trains for Olympic glory while her gymnastics trainer stands on her legs.
The cartoon space rockets and animal astronauts on her tiny red leotard are a stark and powerful reminder of this little girl's tender age as she trains as hard as any adult athlete in the Western world.
Nanning Gymnasium in Nanning, China, is one of many ruthless training camps across the country to which parents send their children to learn how to be champions.
But while training techniques appear extreme to Western eyes, they provide an insight into why China's athletes at London 2012 seem so easily able to swim, dive, lift and shoot their way to victory.
Gymnastic stars are known for starting at an incredibly early age, and this group of children appear no different as they battled to complete the demanding routines on bars, rings, and mats.
    Boys and girls who looked no older than five or six-years-old were tasked with swinging on beams, hanging from pairs of rings and bounding across floor mats during the physically strenuous training sessions.

    Ruthless: Boys and girls who looked no older than five or six-years-old were tasked with swinging on beams, hanging from pairs of rings and bounding across floor mats during the physically strenuous training sessions
    Ruthless: Boys and girls who looked no older than five or six-years-old were tasked with swinging on beams, hanging from pairs of rings and bounding across floor mats during the physically strenuous training sessions
    Growing strong: Nanning Gymnasium in Nanning, China, is one of many ruthless training camps across the country to which parents send their children to learn how to be champions
    Growing strong: Nanning Gymnasium in Nanning, China, is one of many ruthless training camps across the country to which parents send their children to learn how to be champions
    Ruthless: Nanning Gymnasium in Nanning, China, is one of many ruthless training camps across the country to which parents send their children to learn how to be champions
    Gymnastic stars are known for starting at an incredibly early age, and this group of children appear no different as they battled to complete the demanding routines on bars, rings, and mats.
    Going for gold: While training techniques appear extreme to Western eyes, they provide an insight into why China's athletes at London 2012 seem so easily able to swim, dive, lift and shoot their way to victory
    Stretchy: Gymnastic stars are known for starting at an incredibly early age, and this group of children appear no different as they battled to complete the demanding routines on bars, rings, and mats
    Stretchy: Gymnastic stars are known for starting at an incredibly early age, and this group of children appear no different as they battled to complete the demanding routines on bars, rings, and mats

    The youngsters at the same training school will be hoping to emulate the success of 16-year-old swimming sensation Ye Shewin, who glided into the record books on Saturday night.
    Only last January harrowing photographs were posted on the internet showing Chinese children crying in pain as they were put to work.
    In case they had forgotten why they were there, a large sign on the wall reminded them. ‘GOLD’ it said simply.
    Charges are often taught by rote that their mission in life is to beat the Americans and all-comers to the top of the podium.

    24/7 routine: A child stretches at home during a gymnastics training session in Nanning, China
    24/7 routine: A child stretches at home during a gymnastics training session in Nanning, China
     A child stretches during a gymnastics training session at Nanning Gymnasium in Nanning, China.
     A child stretches during a gymnastics training session at Nanning Gymnasium in Nanning, China.
    To the top: Charges are often taught by rote that their mission in life is to beat the Americans and all-comers to the top of the podium
    No nonsense: The trainers are tough on the children who go through rigorous training schedules
    No nonsense: The trainers are tough on the children who go through rigorous training schedules
    Home time: Children wait for their parents after completing a gymnastics training session in Nanning
    Home time: Children wait for their parents after completing a gymnastics training session in Nanning
    Ye Shiwen astounded the swimming world by knocking more than a second off the world record for the 400m individual medley
    Ye Shiwen astounded the swimming world by knocking more than a second off the world record for the 400m individual medley
    Winner: Miss Ye poses with her gold medal on the podium. Ye insists that her 'results come from hard work and training'
    Mission accomplished: Miss Ye poses with her gold medal on the podium. Ye insists that her 'results come from hard work and training'
    Winning at all costs: Children are put through their paces doing punishing exercises to toughen them up
    Winning at all costs: Children are put through their paces doing punishing exercises to toughen them up
    Children are trained at camps where the word 'gold' is hung on the wall to make them focus on success
    Children are trained at camps where the word 'gold' is hung on the wall to make them focus on success
    Young boys and girls are put through their paces at the Chen Jinglun Sports School, the alma mater of Ye Shiwen
    Young boys and girls are put through their paces at the Chen Jinglun Sports School, the alma mater of Ye Shiwen
    The school also trained Sun Yang, who won the 400m freestyle at London 2012
    The school also trained Sun Yang, who won the 400m freestyle at London 2012
    Ye¿s team-mate, 23-year-old Lu Ying, this week attacked China¿s grindingly repetitive coaching regime
    Ye's team-mate, 23-year-old Lu Ying, this week attacked China's grindingly repetitive coaching regime
    A group of young boys await their turn in the pool
    A group of young boys await their turn in the pool -DM