Quality Quan delivers sensational gold
Published: Aug 05, 2021 11:38 PM
Chinese diver Quan Hongchan prepares a dive at the Tokyo Olympics on Thursday. Photo: AFP

Chinese diver Quan Hongchan prepares a dive at the Tokyo Olympics on Thursday. Photo: AFP

Chinese teenage sensation Quan Hongchan produced three perfect 10-point dives in a dazzling display to win the Olympic women's 10 meters platform gold medal on Thursday, a performance illustrating China's dominance in the sport.

China claimed gold in all of the women's diving events since the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

Quan, 14, the youngest Chinese athlete in Tokyo, beat teammate Chen Yuxi with 466.20 points. 

She was awarded perfect 10 points from all seven judges for her second and fourth dives. For her fifth effort, six judges gave her 10 and one 9.5, but that was still enough for a maximum mark of 96.00 points.

The teenager, who is only being eligible to compete at the Olympics thanks to the Tokyo Games being postponed a year as diving requires participating athletes to be over 14 years old, said she didn't expect to win as the Tokyo Olympics is her first time to compete overseas. 

Overwhelmed by the number of journalists, Quan, who began the sport in 2014, reacted to the journalists' questions with simple and sometimes amusing answers.

Speaking of how she managed to make three perfect 10-point dives, which made limited splashes when diving into the pool, Quan said the team director just asked her to sleep early before the test.

"It is as it is. I don't have any feelings for it and I didn't expect to make the dives with 10 points," Quan told ­reporters. "The team director told me some key elements before asking me to sleep early before the final."

Her performance was met with resounding cheers from onlookers, including champions Shi Tingmao and Xie Siyi, who won their own diving golds in Tokyo and were frantically waving the Chinese flag.

Thursday's result means Quan became the second youngest woman to win a gold medal in the women's 10 ­meters platform after her predecessor Fu Mingxia triumphed at the age of 13 at the Barcelona Games in 1992.

Quan said her parents had previously "told me not to be nervous," which also contributed to her solid performance on Thursday.

"My parents told me not to be nervous. They said it doesn't matter if I get a medal or not. Just be myself. Those words really helped me," Quan noted, saying she planned to eat latiao, a popular Chinese street snack, to celebrate the win.

Chen, 15, the reigning world champion who had already won gold in the 10 meters synchronized event with teammate Zhang Jiaqi at the Tokyo Aquatics Center, finished 39.80 points behind.  

"I did what I got in training. The medal means my efforts paid off," Chen said. "And I have learned where I can improve, that's very helpful."

Chen said she aims to hone her skills as her body is growing which she says brings new challenges as she has to balance her diving actions and her growing body weight.

China has established a deep diving squad since 1988, winning 40 gold, 19 silver and 10 bronze medals. 

Chinese divers have now won six of the seven completed diving events in Tokyo, after taking seven of eight gold medals in Rio de Janeiro five years ago.

The remaining men's 10 meters platform final will be held on Friday.
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