Monday, August 27, 2007

8-year old runs 2200 miles?!?!

oh my freakin' GOD...

this is absolutely NUTS.

this was in the BBC news, which reports that an 8-year old girl in China just completed a 3,550 kilometer (2,200 mile) run from Hainan to Beijing in under 2 months. check it out for yourself (there's even a picture):
does this not sound like complete lunacy to anybody? is this not insane? why would anybody allow, let alone force, a child to run 3,550 kilometers (approximately 2,200 miles)?

and get this: her father had her on a schedule of waking up at 2:30 am and then running 64 kilometers (roughly 40 miles). every day. and this is in summer heat and in some of the worst urban air pollution in the world.

the BBC News article seems to paint a positive picture. the girl, Zhang Huimin, was accompanied by her father, Zhang Jianmin. the article quotes him as saying he never forced her to run, and that it is something she loves to do. apparently, he says she has dreams of running for China in the 2016 Olympics, when she will be 17, and they decided to do this run to attract attention to her athletic skills.

but compare the BBC News article with the Chinese news--they show a darker side to this story:
based on these sources, the father appears to have failed athletic dreams of his own, which suggests he is now essentially transposing his own ambitions on to his daughter. note also some disturbing facts mentioned in these articles:
  • she ran despite suffering hypoglycemia
  • she ran despite experiencing severe coughing in several cities
  • her father has secured shoe endorsement contracts
  • her father accepted government donations to sponsor the run
  • her mother has separated from her father over her running
  • her family are poor farmers
  • her schoolwork is being sacrificed for her running
dude, i don't know, but these facts add up to a pretty bad picture. to me, it looks like this is a father who's exploiting his own child for his own benefit. and it looks like he's sacrificing her to improve their own lot in life. i think the situation here is more the father forcing the daughter into chasing his own dreams, and less about her following hers--besides, even if she enjoys running, he still has a responsibility to protect her health and welfare, and i don't think this is the way.

dude, she's 8 years old, and only 122 centimeters (around 4 feet) tall and 21 kilograms (about 46 pounds) in weight. i'd be concerned seeing an adult run like this, let alone a child. running like this is just nothing but bad for kids--they're young, they're growing, their biochemistry (i.e., hormones and organs) and biomechanics (i.e., muscles, bones, connective tissue) still aren't set yet, and they just weren't meant to take this kind of punishment.

dude, this story just really bothers me. i know this is a parent-child thing and maybe not anybody else's business, but...this is just SO WRONG. on so many different levels.

China girl completes 3,500 km run
A Chinese girl has arrived in Beijing after running more than 3,550km (2,200 miles) from the southern province of Hainan in less than two months.
Story from BBC NEWS
Published: 2007/08/27 12:05:08 GMT

Zhang Huimin, eight, rose each day at 0230 and ran about 1.5 marathons (64km, 40 miles), Xinhua news agency said. Her father accompanied her on a bicycle.

He said the feat was aimed at drawing attention to her Olympic potential ahead of the Beijing games next year.

He denied forcing her to run, but some experts have said it amounted to abuse.

The girl arrived in the Chinese capital on Sunday after starting out in Hainan on 3 July.

Zhang Huimin, who is 1.22m (4ft) tall and weighs 21kg (46lb), is too young to compete in the 2008 Olympics but her father, Zhang Jianmin, believes she can compete in the 2016 games, when she will be 17.

Domestic media and some experts have accused her father of abuse, saying running such long distances could damage the girl's body and affect her growth.

"I make the training fun for her. I don't push her," Mr Zhang told the Beijing News.

"She loves to run. Many people don't understand us," he said.

Zhang and his wife have separated, mainly because she opposed his way of training their daughter, the newspaper reported.

"Whether people oppose it or not, we will soldier on," Mr Zhang said.


Trihardist said...

This is the same country which destroys the bodies of thousands of athletes for a shot at bringing gold medals to the country, then abandons them to pick rags for a shot at feeding themselves, right?

jonathan starlight said...

i KNOW...this kid is going to burn out, and soon.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

that is torture.
imposing his dreams on her is pretty ruf.
and whats the use if she would b able to do nothign after she reaches the limits of her running...
and one injury would be devastating..