《不存在的妹妹》

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《不存在的妹妹》
作者:多明尼克.莫恰努

世界體操錦標賽將在10月於多哈舉行,全球各地健兒又是時候一決雌雄。

若說運動員職業生涯短暫,那麼體操運動員應是當中的典型。二十出頭,人生來說還是很年輕,但在體操世界則已是「老將」,絕對不許人間見白頭。

所以,傑出體操運動員的傳記,肯定缺不了童年「非人生活」的一章——要在十多歲時已磨練一項技藝達到至臻完美境界,那麼可以肯定地說這個人的童年絕大部分時間只能與這項技藝為伍。體操就是這樣,你發育的時候,正是運動員的黃金時期,為了一個動作的精準無誤,體重必須嚴格控制。《不存在的妹妹》作者莫恰努在十四歲時就奪得96年阿特蘭大奧運體操項目金牌,她的童年就是經常只能眼巴巴看著別人大快朵頤,自己就連吃顆糖果都只能在夜裡偷嚐。

與別不同的是,莫恰努生於鐵幕時期的羅馬尼亞,後隨父母移民美國。父母一心望女成龍,把女兒交給極盡功利、追求勝利至上的教練,使莫恰努的童年受訓過程變得格外辛酸。

更戲劇性的是,莫恰努有天突然收到一封神秘來信,才知道自己有個妹妹,而且是一個缺了腿,但熱愛體操,並一直視自己為偶像的妹妹,這完全令莫恰努體會到甚麼叫人生比小說更離奇。

在取得奧運金牌後,莫恰努經歷了與父母對簿公堂、退役、復出等連串大事。其實莫恰努現今才不到40歲,但人生經歷已經豐富得有如幾番輪迴。讀《不存在的妹妹》,我們除了會對體操運動有更深認識之外,讀莫恰努的個人特殊經歷,更使人思考到教育、家庭、體育政策、殘障人士等社會問題,層次極為豐富,所以絕對值得一讀。
Off Balance: A Memoir
Author: Dominique Moceanu

Gymnasts epitomize the short lifespan of an athlete’s career. In the gymnastics world, a gymnast in his or her early twenties is already a veteran.

In the autobiographies of top athletes, we would sometimes see unpleasant childhood stories which are seen to be “inhuman". In order to hone a skill to perfection, one must spend most of his or her childhood repeatedly training that skill. Dominique Moceanu, the author of Off Balance: A Memoir, won an Olympic gold medal in Gymnastics at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics at the age of 14. While other kids could enjoy delicious food whenever they wanted, she could only sneak in a candy bar or two at night because of strict weight controls. It was a childhood lost.

Moceanu was born in Romania during the Iron Curtain period and later immigrated to the United States with her parents, whose high aspirations for her gymnastics career and tutelage under utilitarian coaches meant that Moceanu’s childhood was full of spartan training and bitter experiences. What’s dramatic was that a mysterious letter revealed that she had a sister who was born without legs and idolized her. Moceanu realized that sometimes “truth is stranger than fiction”.

After taking gold at the Olympics, Moceanu met with a series of circumstances that have moulded her extraordinary life, including a public battle with her parents, retirement, and a comeback from retirement. A multilayered memoir that transcends the world of gymnastics, Off Balance gives us food for thought about social issues such as education, family, sports policy and those with disabilities. It is definitely worth reading.

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