25m shooting gold medallist Chen Ying finds out mother has cancer

Society Materials 15 August 2008 13:14 (UTC +04:00)

As Chen Ying stood on the platform receiving the gold medal she won in the women's 25m pistol shooting event this week, she had no idea her mother was keeping a secret from her, dpa reported.

Chen found out later when her parents called her to share in the joy of her victory that her mother has breast cancer and had being undergoing painful chemotherapy.

Afraid Chen would be distracted and miss the chance of winning a medal after years of rigorous training, her 56-year-old mother Zhang Zhimin kept her health condition from her daughter.

"Chen Ying burst into tears when she found out over the phone what her mother had done for her," Chen's father Chen Cungui was quoted in the China Daily as saying Thursday.

Over the past two months, Zhang has been to hospital four times for chemotherapy sessions. Each time, she kept her visits secret from her daughter, said the China Daily.

"My girl won the gold medal. It was worth suffering the pain alone for all that time," Zhang told China Daily Thursday in Beijing.

The sad family story is indicative of the sacrifices many of China's Olympic families make to see their son or daughter achieve their dreams and to help the nation win pride.

On Wednesday, Chen made up for the disappointment of finishing fourth in Athens four years ago by taking Olympic gold, setting a best-ever final points total of 793.4 points in the process.

Gundegmaa Otryad of Mongolia finished in the silver medal position with a total of 792.2 while Germany's Mongolian-born Munkhbayar Dorjsuren took away bronze with 789.2 points.

Zhang said when she spoke to her daughter on the phone on previous occasions before Wednesday's competition, she was always afraid Chen might notice the changes in her voice after she began chemotherapy.

"It was hard for me to admit that I had lied to her ... I just wanted her to be able to concentrate 100 percent on her shooting. I know how hard she has trained for the Olympics over the past four years," Chen's mother said.

Once Zhang was in so much pain after a chemotherapy session that she begged one of Chen's former coaches to call Chen and tell her everything, the report quoted the coach as saying.

But when she calmed down, she decided not to upset her daughter.

Zhang told China Daily she hates having to endure the chemotherapy sessions, but knows that she has to go through the treatment if she is to succeed in her fight against breast cancer.

"I'm really fed up with the pain the treatment causes me, but I know my next session will be a lot easier ... because I will have my daughter there to hold my hand," she was quoted as saying.