As we speak, China holds the most Olympic medals for 2012, beating the US by only one. But despite their current position at the top of the charts, the Chinese government is beginning to be heavily scrutinized, more than ever, in regards to their attitudes towards the performances of their athletes. It’s been reported that they send messages of congratulations only to the gold medalists, with no acknowledgments to those winning silver or bronze.
The scrutiny was kicked up a notch when it became known that Chinese diver Wu Minxia’s grandparents had passed away, and that her mother had been battling breast for quite a long time. The news was kept from the swimmer for several years, her parents waiting until she won the 3-meter springboard in London, so as not to interfere with her diving career.
The story of her family’s secret has ignited huge discussions in China, relating to the pursuit of success that has been chased by the government backed sports national sports program. The “win-it-all” mentality is being deeply frowned upon, especially after the secrets of Wu’s family followed the story of harsh criticism from a national newspaper towards a 17-year old weightlifter that failed to medal.
Wu’s mother defended the decision to keep these secrets from her daughter, saying that Wu’s grandparents passed away more than a year ago, and that she only approached the subject of her breast cancer because she is currently in a state of remission. Wu didn’t know any of this until this week, after she won her gold medal.
Wu began training daily at a diving camp at age 6, and was moved from her home and placed in an aquatic sports institute by the time she turned 16 years old. Since then she’s become one of the sports all time greats, but at a price. “We accepted a long time ago that she doesn’t’ belong entirely to us,” says Wu Yumming as she spoke to the Shanghai Morning Post, “I don’t’ even dare to think about things like enjoying family happiness.”
In China athletes are quite often taken from their families and placed in special training schools where they will practice for hours every day. It becomes their life.
But even though China is now being deeply frowned upon, it is unlikely that their will be any changes or shift in the system as China is still currently the top medal holder for the 2012 Olympics.