Gold medalist Guo Jingjing (2nd R) of China shakes hands with her teammate bronze medalist Wu Minxia (3rd R) during the awarding ceremony of women's 3m springboard at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games in the National Aquatics Center, also known as the Water Cube in Beijing, China, Aug. 17, 2008.
Standing on the podium beside an outgoing springboard legend, third-placed Wu Minxia can finally bid farewell to the shadow of "diving diva" Guo Jingjing and begin a new era in Chinese diving.
The women's 3m springboard final on Sunday evening was probably the swan songs for triple Olympic champion Guo and Russian veteran Julian Pakhalina, who are both considering retirement after the Beijing Olympics.
In an epic battle for a historic springboard gold, both Guo and Pakhalina staged near perfect dives to pocket gold and silver medals, leaving the bronze to Wu, who also showed considerable skill despite a glitch on her first attempt.
Cheered on by an emotional capacity crowd, Wu earned her highest score of 85.50 points on the fourth dive - a reverse two-and-a-half somersault in pike position - outscoring both Guo and Pakhalina in their final attempts.
"I showed my best in the competition, and I am satisfied with the bronze. Both the winner and runner-up were too strong," Wu said after the final.
Having collected 10 Olympic and world championship medals, Wu seems to always finish second to "diving queen" Guo, whether it's at the Worlds or the Olympics.
When she does make it to the top, it is always with her more famous partner in synchronized events.
But the 22-year-old is expected to carry the Chinese diving standard once Guo is gone.
Born in November 1985, Wu took up diving when she was in kindergarten. Both her diving coach and her ballet teacher wanted to nurture the pretty girl.
Wu finally decided to be a diver, simply because she loves water.
"I feel bad if I don't touch water for a day," Wu said. "Especially on weekends, when I cannot be in water, I feel terrible. To make myself feel good, I take a shower."