China is going all-out in a sometimes destructive push to top the medal table at the Beijing Olympics, the New York Times reports. Athletes are risking their health by training while injured, and potential medal-winners are being pressed out of retirement. Olympic hopefuls are well aware that victory will bring fame and fortune—and failure a huge "loss of face" for the motherland.
Massive amounts of resources have been poured into the country's Olympic training program. Promising athletes are sent to special sports schools far from their families at young ages. Training is rigorous and the pressure, always high, has steadily increased as the games near. The Communist war slogan—“Don’t retreat from the front lines with light injuries"—has become a mantra for athletes and coaches alike.