A Chinese table tennis star won gold in the women’s team event and silver in the women’s singles in the Tokyo Olympics, all without knowing that her grandmother had died months earlier.
The big secret: Sun Yingsha, 20, was deliberately kept in the dark by her family, who came to the decision to help her stay focused. Ultimately, her Olympic performance saw her ascend to No. 2 in the ITTF world rankings, surpassing Japan’s Mima Ito and trailing behind compatriot Chen Meng, who won the gold in the singles event, the South China Morning Post noted.
- Sun’s grandmother passed away in April, her father told Chinese media. Around this time, she was already away in closed training for her Olympic debut.
- Sun’s father revealed that whenever she called home to greet them, the family would lead the conversation away from the subject of her grandmother. “We were afraid of the news affecting her,” he said, according to Sina News.
- The 20-year-old finally heard the news via phone call on Aug. 8, the last day of the Olympics. She reportedly sobbed for a while, fell silent after, and said, to the shock of the family, “I know…”
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About the family: Sun was born on Nov. 4, 2000, in Shijiazhuang, the capital city of China’s Hebei province. Because her parents were busy with work, she spent most of her early years with her grandparents.
- Sun’s grandmother died of a “sudden illness” in her hometown in Gucheng county, Hengshui city. The family thought long and hard about disclosing the news to her, but they eventually decided on keeping it a secret.
- The 20-year-old’s victory concluded the family’s forbearance. “We looked forward to her winning glory for the country and becoming the pride of the country, in order to comfort her grandma’s spirit in heaven,” they said.