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14-year-old diver who scored perfect 10s dedicates Olympic gold medal to sick mom: 'I want to support her'

The Chinese teen achieved an overall score of 466.20 to obliterate the previous Olympic record of 447.70 and capture gold in her first major international competition.

14-year-old diver who scored perfect 10s dedicates Olympic gold medal to sick mom: 'I want to support her'
Cover Image Source: Gold medalist Hongchan Quan of Team China celebrates during the medal ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Tokyo Aquatics Centre on August 05, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

The Tokyo Olympics witnessed perfection on Thursday when China's Quan Hongchan performed two dives that received perfect 10 scores from all seven judges in the women's 10-meter platform final. Speaking with reporters after her feat, the 14-year-old dedicated her gold medal — rightfully earned for the impressive performance she put on with her second and fourth dives in the five-round competition — to her sick mother. "I want to make enough money to support her," Quan said through an interpreter, reports Associated Press. "I listen to my coach very carefully and follow his instructions very carefully."



 

Quan just turned 14 in March, meeting the minimum age requirements in the nick of time, and is the youngest athlete representing China in Tokyo. With IOC President Thomas Bach watching at the Tokyo Aquatics Center, she achieved an overall score of 466.20 to obliterate the previous Olympic record of 447.70 and capture gold in her first major international competition. The teen achieved her first perfect 10 scores in the competition with an inward 3½ somersaults tuck, followed by a backward armstand with 2 somersaults and 1½ twists. According to NBC, Quan bagged another perfect score in Round 4 with a textbook back double somersault with 1.5 twists out of a handstand.



 

She received six more 10s in her final dive with a backward pike with 2½ somersaults and 1½ twists. Only one judge scored her a 9.5 for that round. A picture of her beaming coach holding the spiky-haired teenager aloft after her win has since been flooding social media platforms as the newest diver in a long line of Chinese Olympic champions quickly became an international sporting darling. Born on March 28, 2007, in the Mazhang district of Zhenjiang, Guangdong, Quan is now the second-youngest Chinese diver to win a gold medal after Fu Mingxia won the 10m platform gold at Barcelona 1992 at age 13.



 

According to South China Morning Post, speaking to reporters after her historic win, Quan candidly revealed that she did not get cold feet during the competition. "It seems there is no difference between the Olympics and national competitions. My coach told me to relax and don't be nervous before the Games," she said, admitting that she felt more nervous about facing the press in the media room than performing her plunges. The youngster reportedly started diving at the age of seven while attending the Zhanjiang Sports School where each day she trained three to four hours and practiced 400 dives.



 

Quan confessed that her decision to go into the sport was primarily driven by her dislike for school. "I feel like I was cheated into starting diving. It's mainly because I don't like to go to school, and my grades are poor, but it feels good to dive," she said. "The Olympic Games is just to do five dives. Thinking about each movement and performing your dive well is good enough." The young athlete's spectacular performance last week, where her dives barely caused a ripple on the water's surface, left spectators across the world in absolute awe of her talents, with some even remarking that "dumplings make bigger splashes."



 

When asked about her secret to such sleek rip entry, Quan reportedly said with an impish smile: "I don't know, I haven't compared myself to dumplings!" Thanking her parents for her victory, the teen revealed that they had also told her not to be nervous. "They said it doesn't matter if I get a medal or not. Just be myself. Those words really helped me," she said. "My mum is ill. I don't know what illness she has got. I just want to make money to get her medical treatment, because my family needs a lot of money to cure her illness." 



 

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