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'Supernatural' boy turns Olympic champion
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Construction worker He Ping had never dreamed his naughty son could one day mount up to the top podium at the Olympic Games.

He Chong, gold medal winner of 3m springboard divingOn Tuesday night, his son He Chong stunned a strong field in the Olympic springboard final with a title winning 572.90 points, nearly 40 over silver winner Alexandre Despatie from Canada.

For the 21-year-old, the road to the top has never been easy.

Born in June 1987, He had a carefree childhood with his younger sister and brother in Linhai, south China's Guangdong Province.

His family of five shared a seven-square-meter room and could barely make ends meet with the father as the only bread earner.

At six, He was sent to a sport school by his parents, who had never dreamed of his son being an Olympic champion, just for the reason going to sports school was cheaper.

He trained over 12 hours a day with a determination to change the life of his family through his sporting success.

However, the success didn't come easy.

Just when he joined the Chinese national team at 14, He suffered a wrist fracture, which sidelined him for six months.

When he returned to training, He was switched from platform to springboard simply because he grew too fast.

To make things worse, He was sent back to the provincial team because of an unsatisfactory performance in the intra-squad competition.

It was a heavy blow but the teen diver never gave up. He trained even harder and finally made it back to the national team.

In his international debut in the 2005 World Championships in Montreal, Canada, He easily bagged a synchro gold and an individual bronze.

But one year later, he suffered a waterloo defeat in the World Cup, in which he scored a zero in the simplest dive of six.

"It had something to do with psychology," He's coach Liu Henglin explained the famous loss.

Coach Liu has been working hard to boost He's mental strength. "If he performs in big events as well as in training, he is unbeatable," Liu said.

Nicknamed "Supernatural Boy" for his superior physical strength in the team, He ruled the 2007 World Diving Series and defended his title in the 2008 World Cup.

The 21-year-old is hailed as "King of Difficulty" since he is the only one in the world able to perfectly execute 5156B and 5355B which are the most difficult dives with difficulty degrees as high as 3.8 and 3.9 respectively.

"Now I won't let win or loss disturb my performance. Instead, all I think about is how to perfect my moves. I am competing against myself," he said.

At the Beijing Olympics, He not only defeated legendary Russian Dmitri Sautin, Olympic silver medalist Despatie and his teammate Qin Kai, but also exceeded himself.

"I have been through a lot," he said after Tuesday's victory. "Today I didn't repeat mistakes which I had made in other competitions, and I performed to my best level."

"I now can call myself as a mature diver," he said.

(Xinhua News Agency August 20, 2008)

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