Originally written on The Last Angry Fan  |  Last updated 9/15/14

It’s no secret that China values success in sport, especially in events like the Olympics where competition is on a grander, international scale, to the point that they are willing to sacrifice family, friends, and almost all aspect of normalcy in life in order to achieve their Olympic glory.  Diver Wu Minxia understands this all too well, as it was revealed to her, following her gold medal winning performance in the 3-meter springboard  event in London, a pair of devastating secrets her parents had been keeping from her for some time.

Shortly after winning her third gold medal in her diving career, Wu’s parents told the 26-year-old diver that her grandparents had died more than a year ago, and that her mother had been battling breast cancer for several years (Wu’s mother’s breast cancer is now in remission).  So instead of reveling in her Olympic achievement, the great Chinese diver had to face the reality that her dedication to her sport had all but taken her out of her family’s life completely.

Unfortunately this is how it is in China for many athletes, where the nation’s win-at-all-costs attitude trumps the athlete’s personal life.  It obviously works, as China is an Olympic powerhouse (they currently lead the gold medal, and total medal standing at the 2012 London Olympics), but is it worth it?

From Yahoo…

Wu’s parents decided to withhold news of both the death of her grandparents and of her mother’s long battle with breast cancer until after she won the 3-meter springboard in London so as to not interfere with her diving career.

“It was essential to tell this white lie,” said her father Wu Yuming.

“We accepted a long time ago that she doesn’t belong entirely to us,” Wu Yuming told the Shanghai Morning Post. “I don’t even dare to think about things like enjoying family happiness.”

Often times athletes can use personal tragedy as an inspiration, like Joannie Rochette did at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, where she skated to a bronze medal just days after her mother’s unexpected passing.  It’s hard not to feel sorry for Wu Minxia, who, despite her gold medals and fame in her homeland, has to live with the fact that she wasn’t able to say goodbye to her grandparents, or be there for her mother as she battled cancer.

Those things may not be as important as winning in China, but for the rest of us, they mean more than anything in the world.

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