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China’s Wu wins record fifth diving gold

China’s Wu Minxia has splashed into the Olympic record books at Rio 2016, bypassing legends Greg Louganis of the USA and her “big sister”, compatriot Guo Jingjing, to become the first person to win five diving gold medals.

Wu reached the landmark in partnering Shi Tingmao to a comprehensive victory in the women's synchronised 3m springboard. Their final tally of 345.60 points left them 31.77 clear of Italy’s Tania Cagnotto and Francesca Dallape, with Australia’s Maddison Keeney and Anabelle Smith.

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Wu and Shi leapt to the top of the leaderboard from round one and never looked like vacating the position, sealing gold in the last two rounds with exquisitely synchronised dives. The win establishes Wu as one of the great all-time Olympians and also broke a number of other barriers. As well as passing Guo to become the first man or woman with seven diving medals in total, she is now the first diver to win four Olympic titles in a single event. Her other gold came in the women’s 3m springboard event at Beijing 2012. 

Aged 30, she is now also the oldest Olympic gold medallist in women's diving, breaking the previous record held by Micki King of the USA, who was 28 when she won synchronised 3m springboard gold at Munich 1972.

Taking stock of her achievement, Wu said: “I'm really happy to get this medal. We all wished that the Chinese divers would have a good performance during the Olympic Games. Both of us were very good today.” Heaping praise on her partner, Shi said: “I'm really happy to have a partner like Wu Minxia. She makes me strong.”

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The victory gave China the start they were looking for in their bid to sweep all eight men’s and women's events, and could see Wu emerge from the shadow of her former dive partner Guo, who dominated the sport in Games past.

Previously, only Guo and fellow compatriots Fu Mingxia and Chen Ruolin, along with Louganis and Patricia McCormick of the USA, had attained four diving golds. 

Chen could catch Wu on five golds later at Rio 2016, when she competes in the 10m synchronised event.

Wu, who won the event in 2004 and 2008 with Guo, and in 2012 with He Zi, will not be able to add to her tally in Rio, as this is her one and only event of the 2016 Games. Asked if she now has plans to retire, she commented: “Probably, yes. It's not easy. It's hard to explain how much effort you need to put into this training process.”

In stepping up on to the podium alongside the great Wu, Italy’s Cagnotto continued a proud family tradition. Her father Giorgio won four Olympic diving medals (two silvers, two bronzes) in between 1972 and 1980.

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