Wu dives to golden milestone
Four straight titles for oldest champion
Chinese diver Wu Minxia cemented her name in Olympic history on Sunday, becoming the sport’s most decorated female when she partnered with Shi Tingmao on five flawless dives to win gold in the synchronized 3-meter springboard competition.
After the tandem scored 345.6 points in the final, Wu becamethe firstwomanto win gold at four consecutive Games and, at 30 years and 271 days, the oldest female to win an Olympic diving gold medal.
She has also set the record for most golds in Olympic diving (5) and tied gymnast Zou Kai for the most by any Chinese athlete.
Wu’s parents and her boyfriend, Zhang Xiaocheng, were watching from the stands at Rio’s Maria Lenk Aquatics Center, cheering and waving red flags.
“I still feel nervous before a final, but I prepared and executed the routines like I usually do,” said Wu, a Shanghai native who started diving in 1991.
Hinting she might retire after these Games, Wu said she “started to miss” the podium as soon as she stepped down from it, “as I won’t have the chance to make my way up there again”.
Since withdrawing from the National Games in 2013 due to wrist inflammation, a series of injuries to her neck, waist and leg left Wu requiring almost daily physical therapy.
“It feels like I have no other parts of my body that could bear another injury,” she said.
“Every time after a major event I thought about quitting, but the motivation of breaking the age barrier and the records has driven me through.”
Wu’s dedication and achievements earned praise from her rivals.
“I am happy for her, she deserves it. For us, competing against the Chinese is like running against Usain Bolt,” said Italian diver Tania Cagnotto, who paired with Francesca Dallape for the silver medal.
Australia’s Maddison Keeney and Anabelle Smith took the bronze.
Wu’s partner Shi, six years her junior, said practicing alongside “sisterXia” gives her someone to look up to.
“She’s been a role model for us because she always stays rigorous in her training,” said Shi.
“Her competence and success at the Olympics at this age has motivated and inspired me.”
Wu said she plans to return to college to complete a sportsrelated postgraduate program after she retires from competition.
Jiefang Daily reported she will pursue a Master’s degree at Shanghai University of Sport.
Zhang, who lives in Beijing, said he is planning to relocate to Shanghai to be withWu.