Shawn on Freakonomics:
… My coach was Chinese, born and raised Chinese. When he was three years old, living in China, he was taken away from his family and actually put into their Olympic system. And raised to be an Olympic gymnast in China. And he kind of had this career within the gymnastics world in China that I would say almost traumatized him. He lost his childhood. He kind of lost his family in this trend. This crazy career.
So when he was 21 years old he actually left China, came to the United States, opened a gym in West Des Moines, Iowa, of all places. And had this dream, this American dream, to raise an Olympian or Olympians that were also children and how to balance in life and were fun loving and had a true childhood.
And I was really really blessed to fall under his guidance and his coaching because he let me go to school. I mean not even let me. He kind of demanded that we go to a full day of school. He encouraged us to go to school dances, to go to Dairy Queen after practice. He incentivized us by letting us sleep over at the gym and have popcorn and ice cream. And he just was this fun loving guy.
And I think because he let us have fun as children, but yet pushed us and challenged us at the same time, it challenged us and encouraged us to go farther in the sport. And I feel the intensity of elite athletics, you weed out a lot of people just because you burn them out so quickly. So no, I don’t think the intensity is necessary. I think you need intense training but in small doses, not the 80 hours a week people think. …
(via Steve Arkell)