Zhang ShangwuÂ one of China’s most promisingÂ OlympicÂ gymnasts has been found struggling and begging on the streets.
The athlete was an expert in still rings and was being trained forÂ OlympicÂ gold before anÂ injuryÂ ended his career short.
ZhangÂ has been left begging for scraps on China’s streets after he was given a small payoff of Â£3,650 by the government and unable to work due to his injuries.
It is easy to say his story has shocked the Chinese nation – who usually shower theirÂ OlympicÂ winners with lavish gifts. It hasÂ promptedÂ serious questioning of the counties strict sports system they have in place.
Onlookers believe it is wrong for athletes to be left struggling if forced to retire early.
Chinese sports men and women are put through tough training programs from a very young age to be the best in their field.
If they are successful the athletes are given a monthly payout from theÂ governmentÂ and other perks, but if they are not seen to be at the top of their game they are simply cut loose.
Zhang ShangwuÂ was trained from the age of five and put through an eight year gruelling program at a gymnastics academy.
He was chosen for the Chinese national side in 2001 and won two gold meddles, which he has been forced to sell for Â£10 on the streets.
He was a favourite for 2004Â AthensÂ Olympics, but a Â broken Achilles tendon ruined any chances he had of making the team.
Sadly ZhangÂ never recovered and in in 2005 retired with his payoff from the government.
He said: “The money meant the local team no longer had to take any liability for my future.
“After I left the sports system, I got a job as a food delivery boy, but after a while my injury got worse and worse so eventually I couldn’t run or even walk for long periods”.
His Â£3,650 payoff did not last long, and when his grandfather suffered a brainÂ hemorrhage, he turned to theft and was arrested in 2007.
When released from jail in April this year after serving three years,Â ZhangÂ found himself on the streets yet again.