‘It’s disturbing our lives’: Family of 14-year-old Olympic champ rejects $30,000, property gifts, asks mob of fans to leave her alone

‘It’s disturbing our lives’: Family of 14-year-old Olympic champ rejects $30,000, property gifts, asks mob of fans to leave her alone
Carl Samson
August 13, 2021
The family of Chinese Olympic gold medalist
Background: Hongchan, 14, claimed victory after finishing the women’s 10-meter (33 feet) platform dive with a dominating score of 466.20. She was China’s youngest representative in the Tokyo Games.
  • The young Olympian has since become a celebrity, winning fans with her charismatic attitude. But she won even more hearts after dedicating her achievement to her mother, who has been sick and hospitalized multiple times after a car accident in 2017.
  • “(My) mom is sick, but I don’t know how to read the character (of the disease) … so I just want to make a lot of money to pay for medical bills … and cure her,” she said in an interview after winning her gold, according to Sixth Tone.

Unwanted visitors: As more people learned about Hongchan’s humble background, they started sending gifts and visiting her home in Maihe, a rural village in Guangdong province. The hordes of visitors began to interfere not only with her family’s daily routine, but their entire village’s as well.
  • The village recorded an average of about 2,000 visitors a day, Insider reported. Some of them allegedly asked for selfies with family members, stole jackfruits as souvenirs, and even loitered around until night, making noises and disrupting people’s sleep.
  • On Sunday, Hongchan’s father Wenmao said that they were offered a flat, a commercial property and 200,000 yuan ($30,800). However, he declined all these gifts, according to the South China Morning Post. “I thank them for coming, but I did not take anything. I did not take a penny,” he said.
  • Wenmao, who works as an orange farmer, instead asked the crowds to stay at home. “They can just send their regards. There’s no need to come here,” he said. “It’s disturbing their lives and ours too, isn’t it?”
  • It’s unclear whether all of Hongchan’s visitors were actual fans, too. Social media users suspected that some were only clout-chasing. “If people are going to her house just to get followers, that’s despicable. Her mother is sick, she shouldn’t be disturbed,” one Weibo user wrote, according to the BBC.
Village authorities themselves have had enough. As of this writing, the area has reportedly been closed off to visitors, whose crowding had violated COVID-19 control measures.
Featured Image via BeIN Sports Asia
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