BEIJING: The father of a champion Chinese diver has reportedly admitted hiding news that her mother had cancer to keep her focused on the Olympics, triggering criticism of China’s ruthless pursuit of victory and its sports policies.
Diver Wu Minxia scooped gold in the synchronised 3m springboard at the Olympics, becoming the first diver in history to win golds at three consecutive Games. Her parents had gone to extreme lengths to ensure their daughter’s success, including concealing the news of her mother’s eight-year battle with breast cancer from her, reported the Shanghai Morning Post.
The family also kept news of Wu’s grandparents’ death from the diver, added the report.
“Wu called us after her grandmother died, I gritted my teeth and told her, ‘everything’s fine, there aren’t any problems’,” Wu’s father Wu Jueming told the paper.
Wu’s parents found such lies were ‘essential’ to ensure their daughter could keep focused on her training, said the Shanghai Morning Post.
“We never talk about family matters with our daughter,” said the father.
Thousands of Chinese web users took to Sina Weibo – a Chinese microblog similar to Twitter – to condemn what they called the parents’ ‘white lies’ as an example of the harshness of China’s government-funded sports system. China’s Soviet-style sports schools have produced many world champions and the country is leading the gold medals table in London.
But it has also been criticised for pushing young athletes too hard.
The Shanghai Morning Post said Wu’s parents rarely saw their daughter, keeping track of her activities by following her microblog account.
They travelled to London to support their daughter, but did not meet her in person before her diving final, it said.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 3rd, 2012.
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