It’s a frightening indication of how seriously China takes the Olympics.
Wu Minxia won a gold in the synchronised 3m springboard at the London Olympics, but her happiness couldn’t have lasted very long. Soon after the result, Minxia’s parents confessed that they had been holding back the news that her grandparents had died over a year ago, and that her mother was in remission from breast cancer.
Her father has however defended the decision to keep the devastating news secret from Minxia. In an interview with Chinese daily The Shanghai Morning Post, her father said, “We never talk about family matters with our daughter. We’ve known for years that our daughter doesn’t belong to us any more.”
In China, athletes are often taken away from their families at a young age and placed in specialist training schools where they practice for hours every day. A report in Yahoo Sports says Minxia began training daily at a diving camp at the age of 6. By the time she was 16, she had left home to be installed in a government aquatic sports institute.
Meanwhile, the story has prompted a strong reaction on cyberspace in China with many accusing the government of extreme measures to prepare for the Olympics .
AFP reported, “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.”
One Weibo user reportedly said, “Apart from making people crazy, our Olympic strategy also makes people lose their humanity.”