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The Globe and Mail

In pictures: China's future Olympic champions

The Shichahai Sports School in Beijing was established in 1958, during a decade in which newly communist China copied much from the Soviet Union, including its sports system, and is the biggest sports boarding school in the Chinese capital with around 600 students and 80 coaches training in ten different sports.

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A young gymnast hangs from gymnastic rings in front of a Chinese national flag during a gymnastics class for children aged between seven and ten at the Shichahai Sports School in Beijing. The school has approximately 600 students and 80 coaches training in ten different sports.

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Young gymnasts stand together as a classmate hangs from gymnastic rings in front of a Chinese national flag. Children are handpicked from around China and sent to be trained as the next generation of Olympic champions for sports including table tennis, badminton, weightlifting, gymnastics, volleyball, boxing and tae kwon do.

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A young gymnast stretches with her classmates. About half the students pay their own way with the other half, called 'professional reserves,' having all their training, academic and accommodation expenses covered by the state.

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A young gymnast hangs from an uneven bar during a gymnastics class.

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A young gymnast hangs from a bar above a pit filled with foam rubber during a gymnastics class for children aged between seven and ten at the Shichahai Sports School in Beijing.

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Young gymnasts prepare to practise their floor exercises during a gymnastics class.

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A young gymnast steps off a table used to reach gymnastic rings during a gymnastics class.

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A young gymnast hangs from gymnastic rings in front of a Chinese national flag.

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A coach holds a young gymnast hanging from gymnastic rings as another trains on the parallel bars during a gymnastics class.

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A young gymnast catches her breath during a gymnastics class for children aged between seven and ten at the Shichahai Sports School in Beijing.

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A coach holds onto a young gymnast during a gymnastics class for children.

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Young gymnasts wait for their turn on various apparatus during a gymnastics class.

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A coach talks to students as another hits a shot during a table tennis class at the Shichahai Sports School in Beijing.

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A young student collects table tennis balls during a class at the Shichahai Sports School in Beijing.

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A coach watches as a student hits a shot during a table tennis class at the Shichahai Sports School in Beijing.

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A coach reaches for more table tennis balls as he watches students practice during a table tennis class.

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Two students practise together during a table tennis class at the Shichahai Sports School in Beijing.

David Gray/REUTERS/The Globe and Mail

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