China gets on high horse with fun-loving gymnasts
China has ordered its national gymnasts to turn in their computers and car keys, turn off their cell phones at 10 p.m. and stay in at night, so they will be fresh for training the next day.
Athletes who failed to comply with the new rules would face fines of between 2,000 yuan and 5,000 yuan, the Beijing News reported on Wednesday.
"Team members have been playing computer games and sending too many text messages, and others have been sneaking out of their apartments at night, all of which has directly impacted on daily practice," team official Zhang Peiwen was quoted as saying.
China's gymnasts are gearing up for a busy second half of the year in which they compete in the 10th National Games, the East Asian Games and the World Gymnastics Championships in Melbourne, Australia.
Members of the men's team would also have to give up their habit of playing soccer to blow off steam after the 10th National Games, at least until after November's world championships, the report said.
The national team is sure to face even heavier pressure and closer scrutiny before the 2008 Beijing Olympics, when they will be expected to improve on their disappointing one gold medal at the Athens Games.
For now, the athletes are taking the strict rules in their stride.
"I only use my computer for listening to music and chatting online and I rarely make calls on my mobile phone, so these new rules won't likely have a big effect on my life," pommel horse specialist Xiao Qin was quoted as saying.
"I'll probably just feel a little more bored than before."