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Feature: Aussie Mitcham overjoyed with last-minute overturn
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09:36, August 24, 2008

Australian 21-year-old Matthew Mitcham could not help jumping up and down Saturday night when he defeated his strong Chinese rival in the very last minute to taste a memorable win.

"It's going to take a while to sink in. My cheeks hurt from smiling, and my face hurts from the chlorine," said the exited guy from Sydney after the games.

The world No. 3 had never expected a gold medal fell on his lap, especially when he was over 30 points behind top Chinese favorite Zhou Luxin before the last attempt.

However, he overturned his destiny by nailing a near flawless last dive, a back two-and-a-half somersault and two-and-a-half twists, with a 3.8 degree of difficulty, achieving as high as 112.10 points.

Chinese Zhou Luxin, winner of the 2006 World Cup and second in the 2007 world championships, executed an unsatisfactory last show and claimed only the eighth highest score of 74.80.

The unbelievable turnover stunned both the ecstatic capacity of fans and competitors. The diver coming from behind toppled defending world champion Zhou and shattered diving powerhouse China's dream of a clean gold sweep on home soil.

Mitcham squatted on the ground and burst into tears. "In my wildest dreams I got the gold medal. I thought maybe I could have gotten the bronze or silver medal," he said with surprising expressions.

He gave big hugs to his coach and teammates, cheering with Australian fans the incredible victory.

In the dramatic platform final, Zhou seized the lead from the very beginning. He nailed a beautiful forward three-and-a-half somersault in pike position to top the 12-man field.

After earning three perfect 10s for his fifth dive, a difficult inward three-and-a-half somersaults in tuck position, he seemed untouchable in the first place, well ahead of second-placed Mitcham with over 30 points.

"I couldn't hear the crowd. I didn't feel any pressure at that moment, and nobody gives me pressure," said Mitcham. "I collected lots of experience from the springboard event, so I just wanted to enjoy the games."

The relaxed mood helped him stage a near perfect last dive, over after which the gold was no more a pie in the sky.

"I'm so happy. I enjoyed the games a lot," said the Aussie, who is the first Australian male to win an Olympic diving gold since 1924.

Born in March of 1988 in Queensland of Australia, he took up diving training at 11 under the guidance of then Australian coach Wang Tongxiang.

Before mounting to the top of the Olympic podium, his best score is champion in the 2008 FINA Grand Prix USA leg.


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