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Diver Chen adds challenging gold for China
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Olympic champion Chen Ruolin, 16, added a most challenging gold for diving powerhouse China on Thursday, reclaiming the country's supremacy in the platform event.

It was a very tense competition on Thursday evening. Unlike China's invincible victory in previous events, the platform champion merely came out at the last minute.

Chen Ruolin

Chen Ruolin 

"I was extremely nervous when I stood on the platform for the last dive," said the teenager, who was 1.6 points behind silver winner Emilie Heymans of Canada after the first four dives.

The Canadian world champion nailed a beautiful last dive, an inward three-and-a-half somersault in tuck position, for which she achieved as high as 88.00 scores.

Only by amassing over 90 points in her last attempt, can Chen recapture the platform title which China lost at the previous two Olympics following the retirement of Fu Mingxia.

"I didn't look at the score on the screen. But I can hear the thunderous cheers of the crowd," she said.

"Then I just stay focused and try to show my best level in the training. Finally I did, and didn't let chance go by," said the smiling girl.

As current world No. 1 at the women's 10m platform diving, the teenager bagged both synchro and individual platform titles in her first Olympic tour on home soil.

Brought up by her grandparents, Chen started training as a diver at four at the Nantong City Youth Sports Institute. She was very weak then, and her family just wanted her to be stronger.

But Chen found herself so ecstatic with diving, that even dreamed of her fellows who dived better than herself.

Getting over all kinds of difficulties and injuries including an arm fracture at an age of six, Chen mounted to the top of a series of youth games and national championships.

Her excellent performances also attracted attention from national team manager Zhou Jihong, who recruited Chen into the Chinese "Dream Team" at an age of 12.

Her national team coach Ren Shaofen described her as "talented", "hard-working" and has "excellent mind of state".

The native from China's Jiangsu province, is a fan of Tom and Jerry. She loves watching cartoons in her spare time. Her gym bags was decorated with colorful badges and pins of Mickey Mouse and cartoon penguins.

During Chen's international debut in the Doha Asian Games, she grabbed 10m platform gold with her synchronized pair Jia Tong, making herself the youngest gold medalist of the Games.

In the following two years, the "emerging star" defended her 10m platform title at the 2006 FINA Diving World Cup and the 2007 Melbourne World Championships, becoming the youngest champion of the Chinese team.

At the 2008 World Cup in Beijing, Chen pocketed both 10m platform individual and synchronized gold medals by gaining three 10's and four 10's for her nearly-flawless second and final dives.

One of the hardships the teenager faced during preparation for Olympics, might be weight control.

"I always have to watch my weight and shape or else I won't be able to complete the most difficult dives," she said.

Chen even gave up her favorite snacks and sweets to control weight. "Sometimes I would get really hungry, but I was only allowed to drink water. I would tell myself to hold on until after the Olympics."

The teenager said the first thing she would like to do after securing champion, is to have a good sleep and eat whatever good to eat.

(Xinhua News Agency August 22, 2008)

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