The family of Quan Hongchan, the Chinese gold-medal-winning Olympic diver, are suddenly finding themselves refusing gifts and cash from across the country after the general public learned about the teenager’s humble background.
Not only did Quan find immense success during the Olympics, but she is also a charismatic teenager who is immensely likeable and quick to smile, which transformed her into a celebrity after the Games.
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Now, as the Chinese public finds out about her background, they are rushing to send gifts, make generous offers and transform her village into a tourist location. The girl’s mother is ill following a serious car accident in 2017 and they survive on the meagre salary of her orange-farming father.
Local media reported that Quan’s home village of Maihe, in Guangdong province, has become an social media hotspot after her stunning performance in the 10m platform diving final in Tokyo last week.
Vloggers and fans have flocked to this little-known village and created a big headache for Quan’s family and neighbours along the way. The crowds have interrupted the town’s daily routine and hindered epidemic control efforts as China fights its biggest Covid-19 battle since last year.
Quan Wenmao, the girl’s father, said on Sunday that he was offered a flat, a commercial property and 200,000 yuan (US$30,800). He said he declined all of the offers, the Southern Metropolis Daily reported.
“I thank them for coming. But I did not take anything. I did not take a penny,” he was quoted as saying three days after the teenager won gold in the Olympics.
He also asked the crowds to stay home. “They can just send their regards. There’s no need to come here. It’s disturbing their lives and ours too, isn’t it?” he asked.
Since late last week, Quan’s home has been flooded with gifts sent from her fans, including a snack called latiao, which Quan said she loved to eat.
All of the gifts were kept by the village committee and some of the snacks have been given out to children in the village.
Quan’s dad said he went to work on his orange farm as usual after his daughter won the gold medal last Thursday. The farm is the family’s primary income source.
Quan’s mother, who’s in poor health after the car accident, has been busy coping with the visitors too, he said.
The ill mother was the reason why Quan learned to dive, the teenager told the media in a press conference last week.
“My mum is ill. I don’t know what illness she has because I don’t know how to pronounce that character. I just want to make money to get her medical treatment. I need to make a lot of money to cure her illness,” she said.
Quan started learning to dive at the Zhanjiang Sports School in Guangdong when she was seven years old and practised 400 dives every day, according to previous media reports.
She joined the Chinese national team less than a year ago. The Tokyo Olympics was her international debut.
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