It is not my intention to convince nobody about the validity of the Chinese women performances or to convince you about something that I did not see or experience back in 1993. At that time I was also shocked like most of the distance coaches about those results. I just want to share the information that I got and the experience from this Chinese distance coach based right now in Mexico City, knowing that he had worked very closely with Ma Junren for several years. I am still a little skeptical like most of you, but if one focus only in the training program, the technical part and do not take into account the many other factors, then one misses the whole picture. There are many details that I did not write in my first post regarding this Chinese coach in Mexico.
The talent detection.
These Chinese athletes, the 1993 and 1997 groups were chosen among hundreds from endurance backgrounds in sports schools. Just like Renato have said in many posts about the talented Kenyan athletes, that they started from something, a % of endurance base, not from "0". One of the first tasks this Chinese coach tried to do once he joined my group of athletes, was to dismiss most of them! He tried to convince me to look for peasant young men and women, he used to believe that in a 20 million people city would be very difficult to find a talented athlete for distance events. So he did not care if I could help a young woman to improve her 5 k time from 21 min to 18:00 in one year. "Marco, forget all these people and look for a potential Olympic champion, you are wasting your time!" So, I kept the whole group, but opened my mind to new ideas and we went to the rural areas in Central Mexico, (states of Tlaxcala, Puebla, Estado de Mexico)where all the small cities and towns are located between 2000-2400 m altitude. We went to primary schools observing the P.E. classes and some local junior track meets. The offer was to provide them with food and housing in one of the two Training Sports Centers in Mexico City, no financial aid. But what happened? The Mexican young people is social-cultural quite different from the Chinese one. We found some very talented young men and women. I tested a 14 year old boy who never have competed in athletics, just played soccer and did 1:56 in 800 m and 2m 40 cm in standing long jump, very strong type boy. The big problem was to convince these people to leave their families and their towns and move to the big city, I always explained to them that they would have to train everyday, not like the Chinese of course!, but train at least 6 days a week. What happened is that they did not like Mexico City, were not interested in training, they preferred to stay with their families and friends, keep playing soccer, getting access to internet and watch the cable TV !!
I think we wasted about 6-7 months on these trips, it was tiring because I always had to drive. He tells me that in China in general they do not have a choice, but over here is quite different, one can suggest and invite them to train and compete but they always have the last word.
So, he got tired and forgot the idea of traveling to the rural areas. But I applied this idea right here, in the big city, and have found several talented athletes in local secondary schools. They still are with their families and school and have started to train with already an endurance base from other sports. This Chinese coach realized that he was wrong thinking that only in rural areas one could find a talented young boy/girl.
I also have asked him –in fact, several times- the same questions about the hard training loads done by the Ma Junren group, if they were injured often with so many km.
He told me that they used different types of recovery means, massages and acupressure as well acupuncture, besides Chinese herb medicine. That in China there are certain type of plants that there are not in any other place in the world, they grow in specific spots and during a short period during the year, he denies that these plants are doping substances.
Besides, here is what I have witnessed:
When one of my athletes gets injured, for example, a knee problem that any long distance runners might have, he has HEALED them with HIS HANDS only and their injuries have disappeared!! I know it is hard to believe and many of you will laugh at this, but it really works!!. It is hard to explain for me in this language, but what he does is to put one of his hands at the exact point of the injury, without touching the skin, breath deeply and sends a sort of energy that leaves him very tired after the session. Usually it takes several sessions to heal the injury, besides the athlete has to do a lot of exercises to strengthen the damaged zone, for example for knee injuries: one day 200 repetitions of both knees bending (90°),next day 300 reps and then increasing each day until 1000 consecutive non stop knee flexions! It has worked so far, he is against taking regular medicine prescribed by sports physicians. He has a map of the human body and has told me that everything is connected. When he is sick sometimes, he refuses to see a physician, only drinks water and fruits.
One year ago there was a small group a middle distance women athletes from Australia doing a training camp in Toluca (2700 m altitude), 50 km west of Mexico City. One of them got injured after 2 weeks of training, she felt very frustrated because had invested a lot in this camp and they were going to have their selection trials for the OG. I told their coach about this Chinese coach and suggested that he could help her with the injury. I remember very well his answer: "Marco, in the first world countries we use state of the art technology to heal injuries", I replied, "Here we have the same technology but it is holyday season and everything is closed". He replied "I have seen in 3rd. world countries they use only hot water and ice, but what is this?" I said, "I do not know either and I don’t care but it works for healing my athletes." So they –coach and athlete- were very skeptical and allowed the Chinese coach to apply his technique, she just recovered after 3 quick sessions and could finish her training camp. Lately his fame for healing athletes’ injuries has raised a lot that another athletes from other sports have just begun to look for him and is always busy healing people!! He tells me that this knowledge is common among the Chinese coaches.
I think that one can speak or write as far as his experience allows him. But the experience can not be bought or read in a book or library.