olympics

Chinese Diver Didn’t Learn Of Family Tragedies Until After She Won Gold

When “win at all costs” goes too far.

Wu Minxia (left) and He Zi (right) pose with their gold medals on the podium during the medal ceremony for the Women’s Synchronised 3m Springboard. Al Bello / Getty Images

After a dominant performance in the Women’s Synchronized 3m Springboard Chinese diver Wu Minxia has won gold at three straight Olympic games. But there’s a good chance she’s going to remember her London win a little differently than the others. There wasn’t much time to celebrate this time, because after Wu and her partner received their medals, Wu’s parents decided it was finally okay to reveal some family secrets.

Wu’s grandparents died over a year ago. Her mother has been battling breast cancer for years.

Oh and by the way congratulations on that medal.

Wu’s parents didn’t want to distract her from her goal of winning gold, so they chose to keep these giant events from their daughter. In fact, the only reason they decided to reveal the breast cancer was because it is now in remission. Wu’s father said of the decision:

“It was essential to tell this white lie,”

The man who doesn’t understand the definition of “white lie” added (to the Shanghai Morning Post):

“We accepted a long time ago that she doesn’t belong entirely to us, I don’t even dare to think about things like enjoying family happiness.”

This heartbreaking quote (and situation in general) shouldn’t be as shocking as it is. After all, China’s become somewhat notorious for an athletic program that takes children away from their parents to live and train in government run camps. Wu was placed in such a program when she was 16 (relatively late in a country where it often happens at 6 or 7). But the idea that someone could not know about deaths in their family or their mother’s illness for years, all in the name of winning another gold medal just fries the brain.

But as you turn your eye to the medal count, you’ll see China on top and with a somewhat commanding lead (particularly in gold medals) so it would be surprising if the mentality that led to this decision changes anytime soon.

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