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Promising Aussie Melissa Wu Makes Perfect Olympic Debut
    2008-08-12 19:12:12     Xinhua
With blond hair and sweet smile, 16-year-old diver Melissa Wu looks dazzling in the Water Cube. She made a perfect Olympic debut in Beijing as she claimed a silver for Australia on Tuesday.

Only 142 cm tall and 37 kg in weight, the miniature rocket stands tall on the high tower. Wu, the youngest diver to qualify for an Australian Olympic team, took a silver in the women's 10m platform synchronized final with her partner Briony Cole on the third day of the diving competition, becoming the youngest Australian to win an Olympic Medal in Diving.

"I am very excited," said the 16-year-old, runner-up of the event in 2007 Melbourne World Championships with her partner Cole. "It was very nerve-racking but very excited at the same time. It was my first Olympics ever and I'm glad I had Briony there to help me."

Apart from the first Olympic Games for Wu, another thing quite special in Beijing is that she is half-Chinese. "My father is Chinese," said the pretty girl, who looks like a barbie. "It is very special for me to win a medal in China, though I present Australia. I am happy that my first Olympics is in China."

"It's my seventh time to Beijing," said the silver medalist. "I like China very much."

With five solid dives, the Australian pair pocketed the silver medal with 335.16 points, while the Chinese duo Wang Xin and Chen Ruolin won the gold in 363.54. The bronze went to Paola Espinosa and Tatiana Ortiz of Mexico.

"The Chinese are so strong that no doubt they should be the winner," said Wu. "But I am happy with my result. I really enjoy myself here, and it is by far the best experience for me."

The 16-year-old is also a medal prospect for Australia in the individual platform, will be held on Aug. 21. "Now I will focus on the individual event," said the girl. "I'll try to keep the same mentality as I did today, and I will try to perform five good dives."

The 10m platform won't be easy for the teenager. Besides the Chinese favorite Wang Xin and Chen Ruolin, winner and runner-up of the event in 2007 Melbourne Worlds, there are lots of strong competitors, such as Sydney Olympic champion American Laura Wilkinson and world champion Canadian veteran Emilie Heymans.

"I know that the individual competition will be more tough," said Wu. "There will be very big pressure and big crowd, but I'll go there and don't get too nervous. I'll try to keep calm, and do each dive well."

It's hard to believe that, with such good results and consistence, the talent has only dived for six years.

"I used to learn gymnastics, but I found I didn't like it actually, so I turned to diving to have a try," said the 16-year-old, born on May. 3, 1992 and started diving at the age of ten after early training in gymnastics.

After winning a number of junior and state titles in 2004 and 2005, her first big breakthrough came with a win in the 10m platform at the Australian Open Diving Championships in 2006 where she finished ahead of Olympic gold medalists Chantelle Newbery and Loudy Tourky. The win earned her a place on the Commonwealth Games team where she won a silver medal on the synchronized 10m platform with Alex Croak and finished fifth in the individual 10m platform.

In 2007, Wu was selected for the Melbourne World Championships where she won silver in the synchronized 10m platform with Cole, and finished 11th in the individual event.

It's the second time Wu competed in the Water Cube, as she came to the "Good Luck Beijing" World Cup in February this year and she and Cole took a bronze in the 10m platform synchronized.


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What do you think will impress foreign visitors the most during the Beijing Olympics?
The friendliness of the Beijing people
The Water Cube and other Olympic venues
The Forbidden City
The Great Wall
Beijing "siheyuan" (Chinese traditional courtyard houses)
Peking Opera
Wangfujing Street
Beijing Roast Duck