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Legendary Sautin Takes Limelight at Water Cube
    2008-08-12 18:14:15     Xinhua

Russian diving czar Dmitry Sautin stepped into limelight on Tuesday when he was warming up before women's 10m platform synchro final at the National Aquatic Center, known as the Water Cube.

The five-time Olympian was waging a strong comeback against Chinese domination at the Beijing Olympics.

Stepping on his favorite springboard, the 34-year-old trained very hard together with his teenager partner Yuriy Kunakov, taking most of the spotlight in the diving stadium. The iron man won great respect from the younger divers, including Canadian top favorite Alexandre Despatie, who patted his shoulder and chatted with him.

Sautin, gold winner of 10m platform synchronized in Sydney Olympics and individual event in Atlanta Olympics, diverted to compete for 3m springboard gold in Beijing.

"Men's 3m springboard is a very tough event and there are a lot good divers, like Chinese, Japanese and Dmitry Sautin," said Canadian Despatie, adding the stakes are always quite high in the event.

Sautin's teammate, "diving queen" Julia Pakhalina, described him as a "legend" and "idol". "He is amazing and awesome. He makes history in diving."

The Russian veteran, who started diving at seven, made his Olympic debut at 1992 Barcelona Games with 3m springboard bronze medal.

He was crowned in 10m platform at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. Four years later, he participated in all of the four men's events in Sydney Olympics, taking back a gold, a silver and two bronzes.

Sautin suffered an injury to his left knee in early 2003 which disrupted his preparations ahead of the 2004 Olympics. He tasted a disappointing Olympic trip in Athens, in which he struck the board on his way down from a dive and finished only seventh in the 3m springboard final.

After the Athens Games, Sautin started to consider retirement. "My body has suffered a lot of scars, lots of operations. My health isn't what it used to be. I've had a lot of aches and pains this year," he told reporters, adding the Athens Games might be his last Olympics.

However, the Russian czar came back in August at Beijing Olympics, ready to launch a new battle with Chinese golden pair Qin Kai and Wang Feng.

 
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