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The personal cost of being an Olympian in China


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Canada gets knocked for not being as competitive with the top nations at the Summer Olympics. Well, at least we don't resort to this. Totally loses the idea of sport IMO. This was never supposed to be the point of the Olympics

There are times when an athlete’s quest for Olympic glory should take a back seat, but according to a report from Agence France-Presse, the father of China’s gold-medal winning diver Wu Minxia did not believe her mother’s cancer diagnosis was one of them.

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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I've heard more extreme...on my trip to Beijing, the tour guide (who was once training to be an Olympic swimmer as a kid) told us about his experiences.

So apparently, hundreds of kids have to train together and they are forced to swim somewhere between 30-50 laps in the pool in a limited amount of time before they can eat lunch. And I think you have to re-do it if you fail, or no food....and of course, you get beaten if you can't do the 50 laps in time...

Also, the divers practice hundreds of times everyday and many end up with eye problems because they are basically smashing their heads against a wall....

And if you don't make the team after all that training? Well, then good luck in your future career. If I remember correctly, they send you to uni where you can pursue a future career.

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Although not nearly as extreme, the United States goes too far as well. There is FAR FAR more money in their Olympic Program than in education and healthcare in most states.

As badly as I want Canada to win, I don't want it to come at the cost of one of those two things.

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