Wu Jingyu, a 34-year-old Chinese athlete, competed in the Taekwondo Women's 49 kilogram event on Saturday with the aim of taking home her third Olympic gold medal after regretfully losing her shot at Rio in 2016. Coming out of retirement and carrying the new title of "athlete mom," Wu impressed and touched Chinese netizens with tenaty and determination in coping with setbacks at the Olympic Games court, even after she once again failed to make her dream come true.
In the quarterfinals, Wu competed against 18-year-old Spanish contender Adriana Cerezo Iglesias. Things got off to a bad start with her going down 9-0 in the first round and eventually losing the match 33-2 eventually, a "massive shock" to audiences as described by Reuters.
As China's representative woman athlete in this particular sport, Wu won gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and the 2012 Games in Sydney. Taking part in the Tokyo Games was a significant moment for her because it not only represented a chance to win a third gold, but also because it would have been a great ending to the veteran's career.
At 34, Wu is considered past her prime in the sport and decided to withdraw from the sport scene five years ago. She was seen crying in her husband's arms saying "I'll never get another chance" after painfully losing at the Rio Games.
"I always remember the sadness and regret on her face at that time. As a former athlete myself, I know how such moments feel, like you're saying your final goodbye to your loved ones in front of a hospital bed," Yang, a former volleyball athlete, told the Global Times on Sunday.
However, Wu clearly did not give up. Rekindling her passion to continue to fight, she began devoting herself every day to preparing for the Tokyo Games right after her newborn was weaned.
"She is a true fighter. Being a mom, I know how dramatic the mental and physical changes are after having a baby. I don't just think that she is a powerful woman, I think she is fortunate because she knows so clearly where she wants to go," Yao Ling, a mom and sports fan, told the Global Times on Sunday.
While the final results of the competition have not lived up to the hopes of Wu and netizens, but her story has touched numerous people, many of whom have posted words of support on Sina Weibo to say "Mama don't cry, the results means nothing."
Netizens also expressed that they think women athletes, especially "athlete moms," as being even tougher than men, adding that they are proud to see women athletes paving the way for their respective countries to achieve success at the Tokyo Games.
"Their power comes from 'love,' that to me is part of Mother Nature. I don't just see it from Wu, gymnast Chusovitina's story also showed me this," Pear, a sport fan told the Global Times, referring to Uzbek gymnast Oksana Chusovitina, who is competing in Tokyo at age 46 .
Besides Wu, Chinese synchronized swimmer Huang Xuechen is another "athlete mom" who devoted herself to winning the gold after having a child.
After the competition, Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, caught up with Wu to encourage her to step into a new life phase.
"I tried, so I have no regrets," she said.