Wu Minxia's path to throne

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Asending to top Olympic podium of women's springboard, Wu Minxia couldnot help shedding tears, the first time in front of press.

Gold medalist Wu Minxia of China poses during victory ceremony of women's diving 3m springboard contest, at London 2012 Olympic Games in London, Britain, on August 5, 2012. [Fan Jun/Xinhua]

Eight years on from her debut in Athens, Wu has for the first time grabbed the individual springboard gold at London Games -- what she wants most to prove her supremacy and defend the era of her own.

Her emphatic victory in the springboard final on Sunday, in which she had edged over silver medalist -- her synchro partner He Zi -- with a huge 35 points, has made Wu the most decorated diver in Olympic history.

With a record of six Olympic diving medals, Wu equalled the achievements of Chinese legendary Guo Jingjing at Olympics, and proved she has become the one to beat.

For years Wu has toiled in the shadow of Guo Jingjing, who set an almost unbeatable record of four Olympic gold medals, five consecutive victories in both the individual and synchronized 3m springboard at the world championships and 17 World Cup titles.

Having collected ten Olympic and World Championships medals, Wu seems to always finish second to the "springboard queen" Guo, no matter in the Worlds or Olympics.

When Wu climbed to the top, it is always with her more famed partner in synchro events. In individual events, Wu took a silver in Athens and a bronze in Beijing, while Guo reserved both golds.

Wu had waited for years before Guo retired in January of 2011. Then Wu carried the Chinese diving standard and asserted supremacy in the world's diving.

She swept synchro and individual springboard golds at the Shanghai World Championships and all the titles of the World Series of recent two years.

"I think this is the perfect ending for me. I'm very happy to have this ending," said Wu, referring to her performance in Sunday's final.

"I was very emotional because I wanted to thank my coach. I won't be here without her," said the 27-year-old.

Comparing her experience in three Olympics from Athens to London, Wu said the first one was a tour of learning in which she trailed Guo and learned from her. She had injuries before the Beijing Games which affected her performance on home soil.

"The period from 2004 and 2008 was the toughest time for me. I was not mature enough psychologically and have to tackle the problems with injuries," she said.

After Beijing Games, Wu's physical and mental condition were getting better and better, and she managed to handle more pressure than before.

"I was determined for London Games and cooperated very well with my coach, and all that contributed to my results today," she said.

Wu's success in London came just days after a newspaper revealed her parents had kept the death of her grandparents and her mother's struggle with cancer from her in order not to distract her preparations for London 2012.

"My family is always behind me, support me and cheer for me which has encouraged me to get over all difficulties and hardships," said an emotional Wu.

"All my hard training was paid off today," she said.

Born in November of 1985, Wu took up diving when she was in kindergarten. Both of her diving coach and ballet teacher wanted to nurture the pretty girl.

Facing the dilemma, Wu made up her mind to be a diver, simply because she loves water.

After suffering a hip injury in 1999, the Shanghai native found herself anxious before every dive, and sometimes even felt scared.

She then repeatedly "re-run" her dive in her head to boost confidence, then leaped.

Wu jumped to fame when she earned the 3m springboard synchro title at the 2004 Athens Olympics with Guo Jingjing.

Fighting shoulder-to-shoulder with Guo for years, Wu clearly learned that the biggest disparity between Guo and her lies in mental strength.

"I know what my problem is. I don't want to be compared with Guo Jingjing. She is a good rival. She is there to be my goal," said Wu.

She doesnot need to be compared with others. Wu has already consolidated her dominance in the world's diving pool.

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