Totally Messed Up: Family Hid Deaths From Olympic Diver Until She Won Gold

olympics 2012 chinaImagine winning an Olympic gold medal – no doubt one of life’s greatest feats – then being told just moments later that both your grandparents died and that your mother is battling breast cancer. Crazy, right? Yet that’s precisely what happened to 26-year-old Chinese diver Wu Minxia, who on Sunday walked away with a gold medal – her country’s first – for her performance in the women’s 3-meter synchronized diving event. Hours later, Minxia’s parents broke the news that her grandparents had passed away more than a year ago, and that her mother has battled breast cancer for eight years (she’s now in remission). Talk about dropping a bombshell!

“It was essential to tell this white lie,” said her father Wu Yuming. In fact, Wu had called her parents right after her grandmother’s death and, as Yuming explains, “I gritted my teeth and told her, ‘Everything’s fine, there aren’t any problems.’” So, yes, they intentionally kept their daughter in the dark so as not to interfere with her diving career.

This disturbs me to no end. First of all, we’re not exactly talking about a “white lie” here, despite what Yuming believes. Second, it’s not like Wu’s grandparents passed away just moments before she was set to compete. We’re talking about years here, people! Does she not have a right to mourn like everyone else?

Of course, some things you can’t control. For example, I can still remember 24-year-old Canadian figure skater Joannie Rochette learning that her mom had died of a heart attack just days before she competed in the winter Olympics (Rochette decided to skate in her mother’s honor). But Wu’s scenario is completely different, as far as I’m concerned.

According to Yahoo! SportsMartin Rogers, Wu’s story has generated major backlash against the win-at-all-costs mentality that’s so prevalent in China. He explains how Chinese athletes are often taken away from their families at a young age and placed in specialist training schools. In Wu’s case, that began at 6. “We accepted a long time ago that she doesn’t belong entirely to us,” her father told the Shanghai Morning Post. “I don’t even dare to think about things like enjoying family happiness.”

This attitude doesn’t exactly shock me, but it doesn’t make it any less sad. I feel for this entire family on many levels, but I especially feel for Wu, who was kept in the dark for so many years and not granted the right to mourn the deaths of her loved ones.

(Photo: WENN)

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  • Rachael

    Wow, when I saw the headlines I thought it was, like, a couple of days. But a YEAR? Insane.

  • Andrea

    Well, ok, I get your point, BUT… Olympic training is so extremely grueling, time consuming, and HARD work. And athletes do not get very many chances to be IN the Olympics before they age out, or lose their edge, or whatever. If you are close to making it, if this might be your only chance to fulfill a life-long dream, I can kinda see it. I can kinda understand family members not wanting to upset her or do anything that might derail her.

  • Bhai_Mian

    So sad, that this craze of Medals and commercialism has overtaken our most basic human instincts. This is pathetic and shameful to say the least.
    Sports ( including Olympics) were all about a health atmosphere of competition, global fun and a beautiful display of sportsman ship. Now it is a corporate event in which people lie to their OWN kids for years just for a stupid medal.


    • Bhai Mian Dum Fuk

      Wow. ‘Just a medal’…. it’s called accomplishment. get it right. Show me your gold Olympic medal and i’ll shut myself up, but if you haven’t attained this accomplishment, than just shut the fuck up. thanks.

    • Bhai_Mian

      Another retard who thinks that getting an Olympic Medal should be the highest accomplishment in an individuals life.
      Did you actually read my comments in the context of the article. Olympics was never about getting as many medals as possible at the cost of sacrificing relations, building up lies and typical corporate commercialism . It was all about sportsman ship and a sense of Pride of competition.

      So get a life and try crawling out of your rock!

  • Rozer

    Sad moment. But it is life and always runs with this like situation.

  • Dennis

    Why don’t you keep your opinions to yourself and respect the family’s decision to with-hold the information. Of what importance does this matter to you or anyone else’s life except the family’s? Exactly. None. Perhaps there were circumstances beyond your comprehension that the family had to withhold the information from the Olympian. For you to assume ANYTHING about another family is arrogant. Mind your own fucking business and attend to your own family.

    • MommyK

      Holy! Let’s take it down a notch!