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Chinese teenagers' victory turns team leader into tears
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14:39, August 12, 2008

Just two weeks before the Olympics, team leader of the Chinese diving Zhou Jihong lost sleep, worried about lackluster form of teen diver Lin Yue.

On Monday night, Zhou had another sleepless night after Lin staged a clear-cut victory with partner Huo Liang in the men's 10m platform synchronized at the Beijing Olympics.

Chinese divers Lin Yue (L) and Huo Liang compete during the men's synchronised 10m platform final at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games in the National Aquatics Center, also known as the Water Cube in Beijing, China, Aug. 11, 2008. Chinese team won the gold medal in the event with a score of 468.18 points. (Xinhua/Zhao Peng)

"They had their best performance of recent days, especially in their last dive," said Zhou, who was moved into tears after Monday's emphatic win.

"Huo has shown his best although Lin was less than perfect in entering the water," she said, stressing the duo achieved excellent synchronization during the Games.

The gold also helped the 17-year-old Lin win back self-confidence. "I performed to my normal level," said Lin, bronze medalist of the individual platform in the 2007 Melbourne Worlds.

"I think my form is getting better and better, and I'm confident with the later competition," said Lin, who might compete in the 10m platform at the "Water Cube" Aquatic Center next week.

Chinese divers Lin Yue (3rd L) and Huo Liang (3rd R), Patrick Hausding (1st L) and Sascha Klein (2nd L) of Germany, Gleb Galperin (1st R) and Dmitriy Dobroskok from Russia pose for photos on the podium during the awarding ceremony of the men's synchronised 10m platform at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games in the National Aquatics Center, also known as the Water Cube in Beijing, China, Aug. 11, 2008. Chinese team won the gold medal in the event with a score of 468.18 points. (Xinhua/Zhao Peng)

In fact, he almost missed the chance for an individual event due to his unstable state of mind.

During the pre-Olympic training in Ji'nan in eastern China's Shandong Province, the whole team was going all out to help the 17-year-old get back to his form.

"Lin is in an age of rapid body growth. He grows taller everyday, but his strength did not increase as that much," said Zhou. "Thus he failed to execute dives as well as before, and quality and difficulty of his dives dropped drastically.

"It was a really hard period for us," admitted Zhou, China's first Olympic diving champion.

In order to whip up form of the teenager, China's State General Administration of Sport assigned an experienced physical trainer and a psychologist to offer him advice.

Lin, described by Zhou as "a young calf who doesn't fear tigers", had gone through a tough journey before winning his first Olympic gold.

"Since I started off as a diver, I have locked my sight on Olympic gold," said the teenager from an ordinary family at southern China's Guangdong Province.

To help realize his dream, Lin's parents even sold their house to fund his training.

Lin started gymnastics training in a local sports school at five, and later turned to diving under the guidance of former head coach of the national team Xu Yiming.

He started to participate in all kinds of national competitions, making it to the national team with his excellent performances in the National Games.

In the first few days after he joined the national team, Lin was excited and nervous to see so many Olympic and world champions train with him.

Since his international debut in 2006, Lin and his synchronized partner Huo almost swept gold in the World Series in 2007 and the 2008 World Cup, with their trademark dive - a backward two-and-a-half somersault two-and-a-half twist.

His coach Zhong Shaozhen, who also coached Olympic champ Guo Jingjing and Huo Liang, believes Lin had good mental state and all-around skills, which helped him perform a whole set of dives of high difficulty.

Zhong burst into tears when Lin stepped on the top of the podium at the Water Cube. In his hometown thousands of miles away from Beijing, Lin's parents were celebrating with relatives and friends in their small bungalow.

"I am grateful to all those who had helped me. I could not achieve the gold without them," said a joyful Lin.


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