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August 20, 2016

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Home » Sports » Diving

Golden Ren follows in Fu footsteps

FIFTEEN-YEAR-OLD schoolgirl Ren Qian followed in the footsteps of Chinese diving great Fu Mingxia when she became the youngest medalist of the Rio Games with her 10-meter platform gold on Thursday.

The reigning World Cup champion becomes the second youngest winner of the women’s 10m platform since Fu became the icon of the 1992 Barcelona Games winning the 10m platform aged 13 years.

Ren emerged from the shadows of 17-year-old teammate Si Yajie, who had dominated the qualifiers and semifinals in Rio de Janeiro, to give China six wins out of seven events in the Olympic diving competition.

China has won the women’s 10m platform at seven of the past nine Olympics, and had been favorite on a warm afternoon with just a slight breeze in the Maria Lenk Aquatics Center.

Seamlessly filling the void left by two-time Olympic champion Chen Ruolin, Ren and Si took turns seeing who could out-do the other. Their spins were quicker than anyone else’s. Their twists and turns were graceful and elegant, yet showed stunning athleticism. And when they sliced through the water, they barely left a ripple.

Ren was the only diver to tally more than 90 points — which she did on her last three of five dives — scoring 439.25 points to finish 19.85 points ahead of Si (419.40).

Canada’s Meaghan Benfeito (389.20) won her third Olympic bronze, after the 27-year-old also finished third in the synchro events in Rio and London.

“When I was a little kid, I always had a dream to do diving,” said Ren, who is hopeful of defending her title in Tokyo 2020.

Fu — a four-time Olympic gold medalist — successfully defended her 10m platform title in Atlanta 1996.

“You never know how tall you will get. I am quite tall for my age, but I will continue to work hard and press on with my training,” she said.

Ren had finished second at last year’s world championships behind North Korea’s Kim Kuk Hyang, who got off to a nervous start and failed to get past Wednesday’s qualifiers.

Ren was, however, not totally happy with her performance.

“It was pretty good but not really perfect, up to my expectations. You can consider me a perfectionist,” she said.

“I was lacking a bit of confidence in the beginning.”

Si was sporting in defeat to her younger teammate.

“I really had high hopes and expectations for the gold medal,” said Si. “But to be honest I think my teammate is a better diver so I think that she really deserved the gold.”

The final diving event in Rio will be the men’s 10m platform where China will be bidding for another gold.

Only Britain’s Jack Laugher and Chris Mears’ synchronized 3m springboard gold on Wednesday has prevented a Chinese sweep.


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