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Chinese Olympic diver’s family waits until she wins gold medal before telling her about all the family deaths and illnesses in the last year.

Chinese diver Wu Minxia
Chinese diver Wu Minxia

It seems winning at the 2012 London Olympics is where it’s all at, especially for the Chinese (to date they are winning the Olympic tally hands above all else with 18 gold medals, 10 silver and 4 bronze medals). Yet how much they are devoted to winning can be shown with the following story about Minxia Wu, who resides on the Chinese dive team.

Upon winning the gold medal in synchronized diving yesterday as part of her celebration her family disclosed to the young athlete that her mother had breast cancer and that two of her grandparents died a year ago. Facts that Minxia Wu was apparently spared presumably to allow her to stay focused on winning gold for China. After all you know how distractions have a way of getting on your mind.

As diabolical as the above story is, it shows the single minded dedication of the Chinese outfit to win at the Olympics even to the extreme of being shut off from family goings. Unimaginable to most of us here in the west, but in a culture that idolizes triumph in the Olympics and the sudden material leverage that comes with winning that would not necessarily be there for an average athlete, getting that gold medal can be what separates one athlete with financial security for a lifetime or having to go back to working at the local factory to eke out a grind. Yes life in China can be quite brutal.

But what is also inherent in the above tale is the willingness of society to suspend day to day living just for a shot at the impossible. It’s synonymous with most Asian cultures (am I going to get in trouble here?) that some would argue takes itself way too seriously as it sets about going about its business.

Then there’s this too, which makes for sobering news, courtesy of the athlete’s father:

As the athlete’s father explained to the Shanghai Morning Post, the Wus are not a family deserving of joy:

“We accepted a long time ago that she doesn’t belong entirely to us. I don’t even dare to think about things like enjoying family happiness.”

Reports Yahoo! News, Wu has been in daily training since she was 6 years old and by the time she turned 16 she was shipped off to live at a government run aquatic sports institute.

Could you imagine the disappointment of not having won  the gold medal, never mind the sadness associated with one’s mother having breast cancer or losing your grandparents.