Yao Ming Bred For Hoops

The science project

January 19, 2006

>FAR from being a chance creation, Chinese basketball giant Yao Ming knowingly was bred for the sport, forced into it against his will and subjected to years of dubious science to increase his height, a new book claims.

The 228cm Houston Rockets centre also underwent years of punishing training as one of hundreds of thousands of potential Chinese athletes who endure miserable childhoods in boot-camp conditions.

The revelations in Operation Yao Ming, by former Newsweek journalist Brook Larmer, are likely to raise further disquiet over China’s Soviet-style sports system ahead of Beijing 2008.

Larmer said Yao, China’s first successful basketball export and their most famous face worldwide, was the product of a harsh and antiquated program which has changed little since it was set up more than 50 years ago under Mao Zedong.

“Yao on one hand is this great symbol of China’s modern advancement, a commercial icon that can stride across the Pacific and play the role of a bridge between East and West,” he said.

“But he’s still the product of this system which is one of the last bastions of socialism in China.”

Larmer says Yao’s birth had been anticipated for decades by communist officials – desperate to boost national pride through sports – who had been tracking his family for two generations.

Yao’s grandfather, one of Shanghai’s tallest men, was discovered too late for basketball but his son, the 205cm Yao Zhiyuan, soon found himself dragged into the sports system.

There he was paired off with the 187cm Fang Fengdi,

China’s women’s captain who had been a feared Red Guard during the murderous Cultural Revolution.

“It wasn’t a national breeding program, it was a desire among Shanghai officials for them to get together,” Larmer explained.


last year in Taiwan i was at a coaching conference and they spoke widely about the systematic medications and routines Ming was put through right up until his teens in any effort to get his height to where it is now…

my mandarin is sufficent enough to understand most of what they were saying and i left the room with a greater understanding of chinese culture and beliefs.

in essence he is like Ivan Drago from the rocky movies bred purely to save face of chinese sport, in the sports journals over there dated back to just prior to winning the rights for 2008 and immediately afterwards there is countless stories of children age 5 (especially gymnasts) no longer at home who have gone into training camps all across china.

but with a population of 1.3 billion the biggest home crowd advantage for the games yet, a multi billion $$ training budget, beijings pollution and the cuture shock for the athletes i cannot see anything other than complete chinese dominance in 2008 across all sports…

sorry america but think you’ll be number 2 in 2008…

They wont dominate in the Track Sprints though, I can tell you that for shure!!

Daniel the track is a given for the USA to dominate but they wont dominate overall…

this is their moment in the sun to shine but if Cathy Freeman had pressure from 23 million in 2000 well imgaine what Liu Xiang will face in the next few years with 1.3 billion riding him home, everywhere you look now there are billboards and banners of him all throughout the country…

what will be interesting is the response Taiwan (Chinese Taipei) will receive at the games from the chinese crowds… although they will be just a few hundred kilometres from home i think it will seem a world away given current relations between the countries.

The ESPN Magazine article is a great one. It shows definitively what an evil, evil government China had then and still has today though it is not quite so bad. If you live in a Western-style democracy, take the time to thank God again for the freedom you live under.

And then again, in China it’s probably just a given that your athletic childun’ are going to camps. The people of china don’t think of it as “…evil, evil, evil…” They’ve a much more totalitarian approach to national pride. Everyone is taught to love & worship China from a young age. And as such, they aren’t as appaled when their childun’ are forced into athletics. In the U.S. of A, stealin’ a child to practice athletics would be bad press… it’d never happen.

along with your recent comments about Kenyan athletes you’re starting to give a pretty ordinary impression . . .

“ordinary impression” ??

That’s my point - a “totalitarian approach” to national pride is a real problem. The Chinese government oppresses its people. It used to be much worse under Mao, probably the single largest mass murderer in history. Today it is quite repressive but improving somewhat.

Pol Pot baby, he let the good times roll along with the heads.

America may or may not win 1st in medal count but will do well in track and field as well as swimming among other things and even with a billion dollar budget we’ve still got the best chemests the best coachs and the best genetics in the western hemesphere.

and 1.3 billion people, watch Liu Xiang stuble out of the blocks and fall on the first hurdle.

culture shock(which may or may not be huge issue, the olympic village isn’t tiananmen square) didn’t seem to affect the west(us not particapateing) in moscow or vica versa in LA.

sorry for replying to a 3 week dead thread.