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Teen titans stand tall in China's diving dynasty

By Agencies | China Daily | Updated: 2016-08-20 07:47

Fifteen-year-old schoolgirl Ren Qian followed in the footsteps of Chinese diving great Fu Mingxia when she became the youngest medalist of the Rio Games with her 10m platform gold on Thursday.

The reigning World Cup champion became the second-youngest winner of the women's 10m platform since Fu became the icon of the 1992 Barcelona Games by winning the 10m platform at age 13.

Ren emerged from the shadows of 17-year-old teammate Si Yajie, who had dominated the qualifiers and semifinals in Rio, to give China six wins out of seven events in the Olympic diving competition.

 Teen titans stand tall in China's diving dynasty

Gold medal winner Ren Qian (right) poses with silver medalist teammate Si Yajie on Thursday. Wei Xiaohao / China Daily

China has won the women's 10m platform at seven of the past nine Olympics, and was favored to repeat on a warm afternoon with just a slight breeze in the Maria Lenk Aquatics Center.

Ren was the only diver to tally more than 90 points - which she did on her last three of five dives - scoring 439.25 points to finish 19.85 points ahead of Si (419.40).

Canada's Meaghan Benfeito (389.20) won her third Olympic bronze, after the 27-year-old also finished third in the sychro event.

"When I was a little kid, I always had a dream to do diving," said Ren, who is hopeful of defending her title in Tokyo in 2020.

Fu - a four-time Olympic gold medalist - successfully defended her 10m platform title in Atlanta in 1996.

"You never know how tall you will get. I am quite tall for my age, but I will continue to work hard and press on with my training," Ren said.

Ren finished second at last year's worlds behind DPR Korea's Kim Kukhyang, who got off to a nervous start in Rio and failed to get past Wednesday's qualifiers.

But Ren was not totally happy with her performance.

"It was pretty good but not really perfect, up to my expectations. You can consider me a perfectionist," she said.

"I was lacking a bit of confidence in the beginning."

Si was sporting in defeat to her younger teammate.

"I really had high hopes and expectations for the gold medal," Ren said.

"I will see you in four years' time. But to be honest I think my teammate is a better diver so I think that she really deserved the gold."

Seamlessly filling the void left by two-time Olympic champion Chen Ruolin, Ren and Si took turns seeing who could outdo the other.

Their spins were quicker than anyone else's. Their twists and turns were graceful and elegant, yet showed stunning athleticism.

And when they sliced through the water, they barely left a ripple.

"They're the best at the sport," Benfeito said.

"They're born to dive. I really admire them. I love diving against them and trying to push them even harder."

Si and Ren were already looking ahead to the Tokyo Games in 2020.

The final diving event in Rio is the men's 10m platform, with China bidding for another gold.

Only Britain's Jack Laugher and Chris Mears' synchronized 3m springboard gold on Wednesday will prevent a Chinese sweep.

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