China’s 14-year-old diving superstar Quan Hongchan claimed gold in the women’s 10 metre platform with a near-perfect score at the Tokyo Games on Thursday, leaving a silver medal for team mate Chen Yuxi.
China has claimed gold in all women’s diving events since the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008. Quan, whose medal looked massive on her 143 cm (4’8″ feet) frame, made quite the international debut at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre, dominating the diving pool throughout the competition.
In the second and fourth rounds, Quan scored a perfect 10 from all seven judges as she slipped neatly into the water, barely disturbing it. Quan’s form was elegant and taut, her toes perfectly pointed as she sprung off the board with sharp movements throughout her descent.
Her performance was met with resounding cheers from onlookers, including Shi Tingmao and Xie Siyi, who won their own diving golds in Tokyo and were frantically waving the Chinese flag.
Quan, who scored a total of 466.20, became the second youngest woman to win gold in the event after compatriot Fu Mingxia who triumphed aged 13 at the Barcelona Games in 1992.
Quan said her parents had previously “told me not to be nervous, that it doesn’t matter if I get a medal or not and to just be myself.
“Those words really helped me,” Quan added, saying she planned to eat latiao, a popular Chinese street snack, to celebrate tonight.
Chen, who claimed gold with Zhang Jiaqi in the synchronised 10m platform in Tokyo, finished second with 425.40 points.
“I was very emotional. I felt like all my efforts paid off,” the 15-year-old said. “Even though I am not the champion, the silver medal meant a lot to me,” she added.
Melissa Wu of Australia took bronze with 371.40, saying she was incredibly proud of herself and admired the Chinese teens.
“They’re amazing to watch and I’ve always looked up to all of the Chinese divers,” Wu said. “I definitely try to emulate their work ethic and I’m so happy that they also had a really good performance today.”