Chinese diver Wu Minxia took gold at in the 3m synchronized springboard in London Olympics this week. With this achievement she became the first woman in history to win three consecutive Olympic golds.
But should she be happy enough to celebrate the remarkable accomplishment she has made? No one thinks so. Because following the competition Minxia’s father actually admitted that he had been hiding some bad news from her: both her grandparents had died over a year ago, and her mother suffers from breast cancer.
Sustained success like the one achieved by Wu Minxia comes at a price – in the case of Wu this price was cutting herself off entirely from all sort of family distractions and devote herself completely to training and acquiring excellence in her game. Minxia’s family found such lies ‘essential’ to ensure that their daughter can focus on her practice and training. She left home at the age of 16 to live in a government-sponsored diving facility.
While talking to Shanghai Morning Post her father said: ‘We never talk about family matters with our daughter. I don't even dare to think about things like enjoying family happiness.’
Apart from the couple of bombshells that her father dropped on Minxia, the entire case of the Chinese diver also manifests and reinforces China’s win-at-any-cost mentality no matter even if one has to sacrifice one’s family members for a gold medal. Now 26, Wu has spent a decade in the diving facility rarely meeting her family, didn’t attend school because all she had to do was to dive and dive all day.
It is also important to mention here that even the families of athletes like Wu who come from economically depressing backgrounds are overwhelmingly dependent on the performance delivered by their children in events like Olympics so that they can change family’s fortune one day. Minxia’s family turned to be no different.
Moreover, if we were to think that Minxia is the only one in China who has gone through this brutal treatment for adding a new more golds for her country, it’s time for a reality check. Children no older than five or six-years-old are admitted into training facilities where they are trained for as long as eight hours a day for six days a week.
The deprivation of childhood from these children actually provides an insight into why Chinese athletes are so easily able to swim, dive, lift and shoot their way to victory.