China's diving queen, Guo Jingjing, consolidated her status as the most successful woman in the sport's history yesterday by taking her fifth consecutive 3m springboard title at the World Swimming Championships in Rome.
It's also her ninth world title in a row (including four synchronized titles in the past four Worlds) and she is likely to sweep all 10 titles in five world championships if she is crowned the 3m synchronized springboard winner on Friday.
During the Beijing Games last year, Guo claimed her third and fourth gold medals, making her the most decorated diver, along with Fu Mingxia, in Olympic history.
The flashy superstar enjoyed six months off, shooting advertisements and attending social events, but she still was able to make a triumphant return at the fifth stop of the 2009 Diving Grand Prix in Fort Lauderdale (US) in May.
Gold medallist Guo Jingjing (C) of China poses on the podium next to silver medallist Emilie Heymans (L) of Canada and bronze medallist Tania Cagnotto of Italy after the women's 3m springboard diving final at the World Championships in Rome July 21, 2009.
Guo has virtually surpassed Fu in terms of records in major international tournaments.
She is likely to compete in the 2012 Olympic Games in London, where one more gold would be enough to make her the undisputed No 1 diver of all time.
Guo, 27, has sent a strong signal that success in 2012 is not beyond her.
"I will continue as long as I can keep in good shape," she has said.
Born in Baoding, Hebei province, Guo took up diving at age 6. She was selected for the national team in 1992 and appeared four years later at her first Olympics, in Atlanta, finishing fifth on the women's 10m platform.
In the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Guo had some way to go to catch up to Fu. She took a silver in the 3m springboard.
After Fu's retirement, Guo established herself as the leader of the national team after winning two gold medals in the 2004 Athens Olympics.
Now, Guo is the oldest athlete on the team and rumors often swirl that Guo, who has been romantically linked to Kenneth Fok Kai-kong, grandson of Hong Kong tycoon Henry Fok, would move to Hong Kong and marry him.
Guo Jingjing of China competes in the women's 3m springboard diving final at the World Championships in Rome July 21, 2009.
But Guo said she will not quit.
"I was thinking about retiring after the Beijing Games," she said.
"Four Olympics should be enough for any athlete.
"But when it got to crunch time I found I couldn't do it, " Guo said.