Wu, 26, won gold in the synchronized 3m springboard final with partner He Zi on Sunday in London, becoming the first diver in history to win gold at three consecutive Olympic Games.
According to the AFP story, the Shanghai Morning Post reported Monday that Wu’s father had concealed not only her mother’s eight-year fight with breast cancer, but the death of her grandparents as well, for a year.
“Wu called us after her grandmother died,” Wu Yuming reportedly told the Chinese daily. “I gritted my teeth and told her: ‘everything’s fine, there aren’t any problems.’”
Outsiders have long been leery of China’s so-called “Soviet-style” training schools, training young athletes, while allowing little to no interaction with family. Wu started at a daily diving camp at age six, reports Yahoo! Sports, and left home at 16 for a government-sponsored sports institute.
“We accepted a long time ago that she doesn’t belong entirely to us,” Wu’s father said, adding that hiding her mother’s illness and grandparents’ deaths was “essential” in keeping the diver’s focus on training. “We never talk about family matters with our daughter.”
Wu’s mother is reportedly in remission, while her grandparents both passed away more than one year ago.
Chinese web users expressed their outrage over the report, using the social media website Sina Weibo – which is similar to Twitter – to berate the country’s seemingly uncompromising treatment of its amateur athletes.
Wu’s parent did make it to London, but have rarely been in contact with her prior to the Olympics, instead resorting to her microblogging account to follow her progress.
“She doesn’t call us often because she’s busy with training,” her father told the news outlet.
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