The Chinese say “If you plant a melon, you’ll harvest a melon; if you plant a bean, you’ll harvest a bean.”
The meaning is clear, your success will always be in proportion to the effort you invested. However, on the Olympic field, hard effort might be enough to qualify, but not for winning medals.
To have a chance of winning, one must endure what the Chinese call bitter practice. This is the melon you must plant. In the past, children with talent began to be trained when quite young. Instead of childhood games they had bitter practice. The result was the immense skill to sing in Chinese opera, perform acrobatics, or win in the Olympics.
Is it right to raise a talented child this way? There are arguments on both sides. Some are bitter as adults, but they still enjoy their fame. Great achievement always comes at a price.
A Chinese poem illustrates this:
The best sword’s shiny sheath comes from endless polishing
The most fragrant of plum blossoms come from the bitterest cold