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Is China training gymnasts at too young an age?

Is China training gymnasts at too young an age?

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(AP Photo/Amy Sancetta)

A lot has been made over the young appearance of the Chinese female gymnasts who won the gold medal last night. But at what age should a child start intense training if he or she wants to reach the highest levels?

In China, gymnasts are discovered at age 2 or 3, and soon after start training as elite athletes. But Jimmy Pratt at All-American Gymnastics in Lindon isn't sure that's the best way.

Utah gymnasts
Utah gymnasts

"I would say it's a little bit dangerous. That's why their kids typically only last ‘til they're about 16," Pratt said.

He says typically in the United States, gymnasts start elite training at age 10 or 11. The really young children have a different type of training.

"[They do] somersaults and running around and a lot of games, even things like trying to teach them colors. All those things are side benefits to the sport of gymnastics," Pratt said.

Pratt says the U.S. system works, pointing out the U.S. gymnasts historically do very well against China.


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Randall Jeppesen


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