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September 28, 2000
Big Sister becomes legendThe Rediff Team
Fu Mingxia won the Olympic women's 3m springboard diving gold medal on Thursday, in the process pipping her team-mate and 18-year-old rival Guo Jingjing.
With this, Fu achieved her goal of four Olympic gold medals spread over three Olympics, and equalled the record of American diving legends Greg Louganis and Pat McCormick.
Guo took the silver, and Doerte Lindner of Germany claimed the bronze.
Coming into today's finals, the defending Olympic champion was leading the field on points with a combined score of 585.57 from her five preliminary round and five semi-final dives, but Guo was not far behind on 583.89.
In the final, Fu -- who, at age 12 and 13, in the Worlds and Barcelona Olympics respectively, had created a sensation with dives so close to the platform that her hair consistently brushed the rock-hard cement of the platform as she went down -- turned in a dazzling display of virtuoso diving. And, in the process, handed her younger compatriot a lesson in timing, as she kept upping the degree of difficulty on each dive and pulling them off with elan to have the packed auditorium in raptures.
Earlier, Fu and Guo had to settle for silver behind Russian European champions Vera Ilyina and Yulia Pakhalina in Saturday's inaugural synchronised diving three-metre springboard final.
Fu won the platform title at the 1991 World Championships as a 12-year-old, becoming the youngest diving world champion in history. A year later she won the same event at the Barcelona Olympics. Fu swept both women's diving titles in Atlanta.
The three-time Olympic gold medalist was plucked from her home in Wuhan in central China as a 9-year-old and taken away to Beijing to train seven days a week. She was only allowed to see her parents twice a year.
When asked in Barcelona what kind of work her parents did, she didn't know. But once she officially retired after Atlanta, and went back to University, she got back into the pool and discovered that away from the regimen imposed by the Chinese sports authorities, she was actually having fun.
So then she decided to push it, and compete for herself where once she had competed for the state.
Guo, backed by the Chinese machinery, was the hot favourite coming in to Sydney. Asked about her prospects, the 'Little Darling' of Barcelona smiled and said, "Guo is very very good, but she should not forget that her Big Sister is around."
If Guo forgot, then today, Fu Mingxia was around to remind her.
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