Fri, September 20, 2013

Chinese diver a picture of human perseverance

Wins gold medal despite absorbing shocking news

By STEVE BUFFERY, QMI Agency


China's Wu Minxia poses with her gold medal after winning the women's 3m springboard final at the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Aquatics Centre August 5, 2012. REUTERS/Tim Wimborne


LONDON - Just how high the human spirit can soar in the face of tragedy and sorrow was demonstrated this week by Chinese diver Wu Minxia.

After winning the three-metre synchronized event last Sunday with teammate He Zi — becoming the first diver in history to win gold at three consecutive Olympics — Wu discovered that her father had concealed from her, for over a year, that her grandparents had died, and that her mother had been battling breast cancer for the past eight years. (Her mother’s cancer is in remission).

Somehow, despite the news, the 26-year-old diver managed to keep herself together and rise to the occasion this Sunday night at the Olympic pool by winning the individual three-metre springboard gold medal with a stunning performance with 414 points, 34.80 points ahead of second-place He. The bronze was won by Mexico’s Laura Sanchez Soto (362.40).

“We accepted a long time ago that she doesn’t belong entirely to us,” Wu’s father Wu Yuming told the Shanghai Morning Post this week, adding that concealing the news from his daughter was “essential” in keeping her focus on training. “We never talk about family matters with our daughter.”

Those revelations renewed criticisms about the way the Chinese sports system operates. Many young athletes in China are sent away to sports schools far from their hometowns and rarely get to see or contact their parents. That’s one of the reasons Wu’s father was able to conceal the death of her grandparents and her mother’s illness for so long. Wu reportedly left home at 16 for a sports school.

To the surprise of no one, Wu broke down in tears after her win on Sunday.

“I think this is the perfect ending for me,” she said.. “I’m very happy to have this ending. I was very emotional because I wanted to thank my coach.”

“I was sad for her,” said Montreal diver Jennifer Abel, when asked about Wu’s ordeal. “And I’m really happy that she put in a great performance.”

“Everybody’s different, every country’s different and I’m sure they did that for her best interest. I don’t think it would be like this at home (in Canada) but I think everything people did was really for her best interest,” added Montreal diver Emilie Heymans who finished 12th in Sunday’s final (295.20).

steve.buffery@sunmedia.ca

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