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Despatie: Silver medal is golden for me
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Canadian top diver Alexandre Despatie battled injuries and bad luck to get a silver medal at the Beijing, and he sees that as no less than a gold.

The 22-year-old scored 536.65 points in men's three-meter springboard final here on Tuesday evening, won by China's He Chong.

"I'm very, very, very happy about my performance today, (considering that) I had an extremely difficult year," Despatie told reporters after the performance.

The diver has been gnawed by back injuries in months leading to the Games and, adding to agony, he fractured his right foot in April. In the World Cup competitions in February in Beijing, the Athens silver medallist slipped to the fifth.

Despatie came to the Olympics thinking his bad luck was not yet over. In Monday's preliminaries, an unfortunate error dropped him to the ninth to make the semifinals. "Starting the event with a really bad preliminary, this made it all very very difficult," he said.

"There was nothing good about this year, but I managed to come through and stay focused. I'm sitting here (as the silver medal winner) and I couldn't be happier," he said.

"Four years ago, I could say I had the perfect preparation. I had won every single competition in the season. I was very fit, injury free and I felt great," he said.

After all that had happened this year, the second Olympic silver is just as golden, he added.

The Montreal native was popularly known as the golden boy for showing talent at a fairly young age. After weathering numerous competitions as a professional athlete, he has become more mature, visibly seen in his moustache.

He said competing in Beijing was a privilege. "Diving is so popular here and so appreciated. To be able to live this kind of emotion and with the crowd is very special to me. It's an fulfilling experience for me here," he said.

Despatie also competed in the synchronized three-meter springboard dive, pairing up with Arturo Miranda, and finished fifth.

(Xinhua News Agency August 20, 2008)

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