(CBS News) After Chinese diver Wu Minxia and partner He Zi won their sport’s first gold medal of the London Olympics with a dominating performance in the women’s 3-meter synchronized event on Sunday, Wu was more stoic than ecstatic.
“It feels normal,” Wu said in Mandarin. “I really don’t have that many emotions.”
But her parents would drop an emotional bombshell moments later when they told Wu secrets they had kept for several years, according to media reports.
“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.
Both of Wu’s grandparents died more than a year ago and Wu’s mother has battled breast cancer for eight years. Yet Wu knew nothing until this week.
“Wu called us after her grandmother died, I gritted my teeth and told her: ‘everything’s fine, there aren’t any problems’,” Wu’s father Wu Jueming told the Shanghai Morning Post.
The news has provoked criticism of the win-at-all-costs culture in China, where athletes are groomed from a very young age for gruelling training sessions at Soviet-style sports schools. In the wake of the news about Wu’s family, thousands took to the microblog Sino Weibo to voice their outrage, according to the AFP.
“Apart from making people crazy, our Olympic strategy also makes people lose their humanity,” one online commentator wrote. “Our national sports system is disgusting,” another commenter said.