China’s Wu Minxia has set a group of new records Sunday at the Rio Olympics, even though she’s only participating in one event this time – the synchronized 3m springboard with partner Shi Tingmao. Wu already has six medals, four of them gold and three of those in this one event. If the 30-year-old wins on Sunday, she’ll be alone at the top of all three of those lists.
Wu and Shi earned a score of 345.60.
Here’s a look at Wu’s career.
1. Wu Broke Five Olympic Records, Despite Competing in Just One Event
Wu competed in one event on Sunday, but it was enough for her to break at least five Olympic records. NBC Olympics notes that she could break a tie with fellow Chinese diver Guo Jingjing, who also has six medals. Coincidentally, two of Wu’s golds were earned with Guo in synchronized 3m springboard in Athens and London.
Her six gold medals in diving broke her tie for the most with Guo and four other divers. By winning Sunday, she became the second woman diver to win medals in four Olympics, after Canada’s Emilie Heymans.
Wu also broke the record for most medals in a single diving event and she is the oldest woman to win an Olympic diving medal.
Wu also holds records outside of the Olympics. She won her first world championships gold for synchro back in 2001, fer first of seven in the event. In 2011, she won a gold in the 3m springboard.
2. Wu’s Parents Reportedly Didn’t Tell Her About Family Deaths or Tragedies During Her Competitions
During the 2012 games, Wu was at the center of a controversy that also sparked questions about China’s state sports program. Her father reportedly told the Shanghai Morning Post that they “never tell her what’s happening at home.” He was quoted as saying that they didn’t tell her when her grandparents died, even lying to her about her grandmother’s health.
Wu’s father also said that they didn’t tell her that her mother was battling cancer for eight years. According to the Daily Mail, though, Wu said that she did know about her mother’s illness.
3. She Says She Does Get Scared Before Diving, but Doesn’t Have Any Superstitions
As a legend in her sport, one would think Wu isn’t scared when it comes to diving. Yet, in an Olympic.org interview, Wu said that the sport is very scary.
“Diving looks scarier than it actually is! The key is to start with the basics and then gradually work your way up to more difficult dives or higher boards,” Wu said. “Each athlete should only choose the difficulty that suits him or her, and then it won’t be scary.”
Wu said she isn’t superstitious, which is a rarity among athletes. She doesn’t even have a preference when it comes to suits. “Sometimes I might prefer to use one colour swimming costume rather than another, but I don’t have to put it on in a special way or anything like that,” she told Olympic.org.
4. Wu Has Found Success With Three Different Partners
Since winning golds in the synchro events with Guo, her mentor, in Athens and Beijing, Wu has found success with two other partners. In London, she was paired with He Zi and won gold again. Although she’s not diving with He in Rio, He is competing in the women’s 3m springboard.
Since 2013, Wu has been diving with 24-year-old Shi Tingmao, who she will be diving with in Rio. They won the 2013 3 m synchro event at the world championships in Barcelona. At the 2015 FINA World Championships, the two won gold medals in 3m sycnhro and mixed synchro platform.
5. She Considered Retirement After London, Where She Scored a Perfect 10 in Individual 3m Springboard
In London, Wu also picked up a gold medal in the individual 3 m springboard, earning the first perfect 10 at the games in diving. After that performance, she told the media that she planned on retiring, The Daily Mail reported.
“I think this is the perfect ending for me,” she said. “I’m very happy to have this ending. I was very emotional because I wanted to thank my coach. I have attended three Olympics and in the first I didn’t do well. From 2004 until 2008 was the most difficult time for me. After this time my body’s condition and my psychology has got better.”
However, she came back with Shi in 2013.
In 2014, Wu was named an Athlete Role Model at the Youth Olympics in Nanjing, China. While there, she told Sarah Chiarello that she hopes to inspire young athletes just like Guo.
“To be named Athlete Role Model at these Youth Olympics is a confirmation of all the efforts for being in the sport for so long. It is to take on this responsibility to pass on the good spirit of sport to younger generations,” she said. “Like Guo Jingjing before me, I would like to pass my experience to young athletes.”