maggie mac neil adopted

Olympic medalist Maggie Mac Neil adoption sparks discussion on China's one child policy

Ontario swimmer Maggie Mac Neil shot to fame when she brought home Canada's first gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics, but now her adoption story has the spotlight turned on China's one-child policy and gender discrimination.

Mac Neil won gold in the women's 100-metre butterfly on July 26 famously squinting at the results board without her glasses before realizing she took gold.

But now Mac Neil's story of adoption from China is sparking conversation on social media, in part because she beat Chinese swimmer Zhang Yufei.

The South China Morning Press ran a feature story on the 21-year-old swimmer who grew up in London, Ontario after being adopted from an orphanage in Jiangxi province.

Although the circumstances of her adoption are unclear, South China Morning Press says there is now an "outcry in China's domestic media over its now-scrapped one-child policy."

Starting in the 1970s due to overpopulation, the one-child policy limited families to only one child, and because girls were often seen as less desirable than boys, they were given to orphanages, abandoned or aborted. The policy ended in 2015.

People are now reflecting on that policy.

"Imagine had she not been brought up from the orphanage, or had she not been deserted by her biological parents, what would she be now?" wrote one commenter on the country's microblogging site Weibo. "The adoption changed her life orbit completely as she was given such quality care and training."

"She might have dropped out of school to support a younger brother had she stayed in China," wrote another.

Another said: "She helms the citizenship of Canada, and all the credit should go to those who raised and trained her well in Canada."

"Her birth parents: please don't go looking for her," another comment said. "You don't deserve it."Mac Neil declined to speak to Vice for a story and has had little to say about her adoption.

At a press conference following her Olympic win, she said her being born in China had little to do with her swimming career.

"I was born in China, and I was adopted when I was really young. That's just as far as my Chinese heritage goes," she said.

"I'm Canadian. I've always grown up Canadian. So that's just a very small part of my journey to where I am today. And it's kind of irrelevant when it comes to swimming and how far my swimming has come."

Lead photo by

Team Canada

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