Dylan Schmidt became the first New Zealand athlete to win an Olympic medal in trampoline on 22 August when he bounced to gold at Nanjing 2014.
The Kiwi posted a final score of 57.340 to beat Liu Changxin (CHN) by a margin of 0.405 points.
“It’s pretty cool,” said the 17-year-old. “There aren’t really words to describe how I’m feeling right now. It’s pretty crazy. Honestly I didn’t think I would get it, but I’ve trained hard, I’m just stoked.”
“It’s what I always wanted to do,” he added. “Not many trampoliners [in New Zealand] have done really well at international scale and to be that guy is pretty cool. I thought he [Liu] did it, I thought he was a bit higher than me, but when I saw my name come up first it was a bit crazy. Honestly I thought he had done a good routine so I wasn’t expecting it. It was close, very close.”
Lying fourth after the two qualification rounds, Schmidt saved his best until last, receiving the final’s joint highest score for both difficulty (15.400) and execution (24.600).
“Going into finals not in first place sometimes is a good thing. Going in first, you’ve got to retain that position, but going in fourth you have something to strive for, something to fight for. I think that’s what I like best, I like having that pressure to have to do even better.”
His mother, Jen, was overwhelmed by her son’s performance and hugged him after his win. “I don’t know what to say,” she said.
“I have seen him training so hard night and day and I know he deserves the gold. He had the dream, the desire and the vision. You see only him in the few minutes he is performing but I’ve seen him sweat it out all 365 days [of the year]. I’m a proud mother today.”
Liu was disappointed with his own performance. “I feel I didn’t do well. I’m not satisfied with the silver,” he said. “I made a mistake in the last movement. I didn’t jump high enough. I think I need to improve my self-confidence.”
Pedro Ribeiro Ferreira (POR) took the bronze medal, with a score of 56.040. “Winning this medal means a lot to me,” he beamed. “The key for me was to maintain my concentration throughout the competition.”