Her Gold Medal Party Cut Short
Celebrations surrounding the gold medal for China's Wu Minxia, her 3rd in diving, were brought to a halt when her parents revealed secrets they had kept from her for years.
Firstly, her mother has been in a long battle with breast cancer and said she only revealed the news now because she is in remission. Secondly, and perhaps more strange, she was told that both of her grandparents had died over a year ago.
Her father, Wu Yuming felt it was necessary to keep these life events from her until she won the 3-meter springboard so as not to interfere with her diving career. He called it an essential white lie.
Needless to say, debate has begun on the "win-at-all-costs" mentality that permeates Chinese sports. It is said that children as young as 6 who show athletic ability in some sport or discipline are taken from parents and installed in specialist schools where they also spend hours a day in training. This is not a practice exclusive to China but one that has come to light during Olympic events.
In Wu Minxia's case she began daily diving camp training at age 6 and moved away at age 16 enrolled in a government aquatic center. Her father told 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." The debate rages on even in China but it is hard to believe that any grumblings will actually change government policy.
We've all heard stories about athletes from almost every nation and the extreme sacrifice it takes to compete at this level. I don't cheer as loudly as I used to at these tales and am mostly saddened that entire childhoods (entire lives sometimes) have been wasted in the pursuit of excellence in something so trivial to the world. I only hope that along the way they manage to pick up some of the tools necessary to make it in everyday life. They say that sports can teach those things, although that's hardly a guarantee.
A Chinese national newspaper severely criticized a 17 year old weight lifter for not finishing in the medals. Chinese Government congratulations are sent through the state news agency to all of their country's gold medal winners, but not to silver or bronze. China finished 2nd in Beijing in medal count but had the most golds. They currently lead the medal count in London. LEAVE COMMENTS.
For other Larry Fedoruk blogs and features, click here.