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Wu Minxia, Chinese Olympic Diver, Wins Gold, Learns Mother Has Cancer And Grandparents Died

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Gold medalists Wu Minxia, left, and He Zi, right, pose during the winning ceremony for the 3 Meter Synchronized Springboard final at the Aquatics Centre in the Olympic Park during the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, Sunday, July 29, 2012. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)
Gold medalists Wu Minxia, left, and He Zi, right, pose during the winning ceremony for the 3 Meter Synchronized Springboard final at the Aquatics Centre in the Olympic Park during the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, Sunday, July 29, 2012. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)

Chinese diver Wu Minxia made history at the 2012 London Olympics after placing first in the women's synchronized 3-meter springboard competition on Sunday, becoming the first female diver to win gold in the same event for three consecutive Olympics.

However, shock soon followed her momentous achievement, when her father revealed details of a family life kept secret to the 26-year-old athlete for years.

According to the AFP, in an interview with the Shanghai Morning Post, the diver's father, Wu Jueming, said that the family had gone to extreme lengths to ensure their daughter's success, concealing the deaths of both her grandparents, and her mother's eight-year battle with breast cancer, which is now in remission.

"Wu called us after her grandmother died, I gritted my teeth and told her: 'Everything's fine, there aren't any problems'," Wu Jueming told the paper, adding that he considered such lies "essential."

According to Yahoo! Sports, the story of Wu's family secret has added to a public "backlash against the win-at-all-costs mentality" in China, despite the superpower's domination of the medal count at the London Games.

On Monday, Chinese weightlifter Wu Jingbiao broke down during a television interview after winning a sliver medal, stating that he was "ashamed for disgracing the motherland."

That incident stoked debate in the Chinese public, which Bloomberg News reports is "increasingly impatient with state-run media that promote an aging view of Olympic success that values a gold medal as the only achievement worth noting."

On Wednesday, eight badminton players, including two on the Chinese women's team were disqualified for attempting to lose on purpose in order to gain a more favorable position in the next round of the event.

Deadspin wrote that the Wu Minxia's story "seems to reinforce all our worst stereotypes about the Chinese Olympic program," in which young athletes are sent to train at specialized schools, often far away from their families.

"Wu began training daily at a diving camp at the age of 6," Yahoo! reports. "By the time she was 16, she had left home to be installed in a government aquatic sports institute."

Wu has reportedly maintained her relationship with her family largely through social media.

"We've known for years that our daughter doesn't belong to us any more," Wu's father told the Shanghai Morning Post.

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly reported Olympic results; it erroneously stated that Wu was the first woman to win gold in the same events in 3 consecutive Olympics, and that all 8 disqualified badminton players were Chinese.

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