Years of intense training paid off when diver Wu Minxia won a gold medal in the women’s Synchronised 3m Springboard, securing her golden hat-trick, and making her a legend in sport and in her home country, China.

Yet straight after her triumph, any sense of pride and achievement was torn away from Minxia, when her parents revealed to her two family secrets they had been keeping from her: the news that her grandmother had died over a year ago, and that her mother had been battling breast cancer for a long time.

Minxia’s parents had chosen to withhold these significant pieces of information from her in order to keep her focused on her diving – family matters deemed ‘not important enough’ to ruin her Olympic career.

This prioritising of winning over family is shocking, however it is not unique to Minxia’s family. The intense pressure put on Chinese athletes and their families by their communist government makes situations like these seem normal in China.

Minxia’s father Wu Yuming’s blunt statement that ‘It was essential to tell this white lie’, when interviewed about his decision to withhold this information from his daughter, goes to show quite how seriously China is taking the Olympic Games.

It is easy to judge Minxia’s parents, however it is important to remember that their act of deception was a direct result of the Chinese government’s ‘win-at-all-costs’ policy. With rumours such as the Chinese government only congratulating the gold medallists on state television and ignoring the silver and bronze achievers, it makes it easier to see why Minxia’s parents went to such extraordinary and cruel lengths to ensure her success, although morally, their decision is hard to justify.

Image via Getty

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