This wonderful article by Rebecca Blumenstein in the Wall Street Journal, about Chen Yanqing, a female Chinese weightlifter who is now a repeat Olympic gold medalist and part of the dominant Chinese weight squad I've been following on TV. The article was published a few days ago, so check it out soon in case it is one of the WSJ articles that times-out in a week and goes off the public site. A sample, from the lead:
As a child, Chen Yanqing was the fastest girl in this farming village. She often outran the boys. One day at a sporting match, a coach noticed her throwing skills and took out a tape measure. She was 11 years old, and the muscles in her arms and legs were extraordinary.
So was the proposition her parents received: Release their daughter to the state, and she could go away to sports school and improve her future, with possible financial benefits for the entire family.
"It was rock hearted of us, but we had no choice," says her father, a farmer named Chen Zufu. "If we didn't send her away to sports school, she would have ended up a farmer."
Later in the story, Blumenstein quotes the father as saying, "A rich person would never let his child do this." Worth bearing in mind whenever you hear about the "natural" collective-mindedness of today's Chinese.
Also, this one, by Adrian Wojnarowski on Yahoo Sports, about the burden Yao Ming is carrying for his country, even though it's not likely to lead to a medal of any sort. (Thanks to Rick Gunnell for the tip.) Both well worth reading.