Doing whatever it is her way has been figure skater Ando Miki's trademark. Whether it is in training, endorsements, makeup, outfits and living arrangements, she has always raised eyebrows and pursed lips in this sacrificial discipline- and skating-mad nation.
Last night, however, Ando topped all her previous efforts at blowing the nation's fuses. In an interview on TV Asahi's flagship evening news broadcast News Station the two-time world champion revealed that she gave birth to a little girl in April...and she demurred on revealing the identity of the child's father. (Link - J)
Single motherhood, much less single motherhood among athletes, is not how one goes about the process of reproduction in this blessed land. A rite of passage of women glitterati in their 20s is indeed the dekichatta kekkon, the sudden announcement by a starlet of a wedding to the biological father of her fetus. That these marriages inevitably -- or pretty much inevitably -- dissolve a few years later, too often in ways deleterious to the child's well-being, is an afterthought, if that.
There are good institutional reasons for marrying the sperm component provider of an infant prior to that infant's birth. Having no father on the family registry is a permanent, indelible stigma -- an excuse for any admissions office, personnel department or marriage go-between to toss out your child's application without reading it. Single motherhood is therefore almost non-existent.
There are good promotional reasons for the day laborers of the sports-and-entertainment complex to accede to sham, shotgun marriages. Fantasy images of wedding cakes, reception and the wearing of white are far easier to sell than "Yes, I had unprotected sex with a male I am not married to and who he is and what I think of him are none of your Amaterasu-damned business. If you are looking for someone capable of justifying or making you forget your own messed up marriage, I am not that person."
As for what childbirth means for Ando's calling, which is figure skating, certainly having a child this year ends all possibility of her competing for Japan at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
Uh, maybe not. The image posted (altered, the original can be found here) is of Ando skating in an ice show on June 28. After having given birth in April.
In her nonchalant and after-the-fact announcement on becoming a mother, Ando once again pips Asada Mao, the country's much-beloved and terribly enervated ice queen (Link). Asada has announced that she will retire after Sochi, one of her reasons being a strong desire to become a mother.
It seems one doesn't have to give up one role for the other, Mao-chan.
Later - Lest it be forgotten, Ando was the first (and to my knowledge the only) woman to ever land a quadruple jump in international individual competition.