It has proven a case of fourth time plucky for Australian diver Melissa Wu, who has secured a bronze medal in the women’s 10-metre platform final at the Tokyo Olympics.
Wu, just the third diver to represent Australia at four Olympics, was aged 16 when she collected a silver medal in the synchronised 10m final at Beijing 2008.
A podium finish in the individual event had proven frustratingly elusive for the 29-year-old, who finished sixth in 2008, fourth at London 2012 then fifth in 2016.
But the veteran exhibited plenty of composure and consistency throughout Thursday’s final, which was dominated in incredible fashion by 14-year-old gold medallist Quan Hongchan.
Wu’s second of five dives in the final, an armstand back double somersault with one and a half twists, was awarded a score of 76.8 that lifted her into third spot on the leaderboard.
Wu remained in that position for the rest of the nerve-jangling contest, finishing with a total of 371.4 points to hold off spirited challenges from Mexican Gabriela Agundez Garcia (358.5) and American Delaney Schnell (340.4).
Quan (466.2) and Chen Yuxi (425.4) took out gold and silver for China respectively, with the former’s triumph remarkable for several reasons.
Quan declared prior to the Games that her goal was to earn money to help pay for her unwell mother’s medical bills.
Quan, competing at her first international event and the only member of China’s all-conquering diving contingent yet to be crowned world champion, earned perfect 10s from all seven judges for her second and fourth dives.
All but one judge gave Quan a perfect 10 for her last dive.
— 7Olympics (@7olympics) August 5, 2021
Wu qualified for her fourth Olympic final in fifth place, having been in danger of missing the cut after starting the semi-final with a score of 61.5.
The Sydneysider nailed her corresponding opening dive, a forward three-and-a-half somersaults in the pike position, when it mattered most.
Wu started with a score of 75 in the final then signed off with her best score of this Olympics, 81.6 for a back two-and-a-half somersaults with one and a half twists in the pike position.
Wu has previously admitted she may not have qualified for the Games if they went ahead in 2020 as scheduled, having suffered shoulder and rib injuries.
But the COVID-19 pandemic has created logistical nightmares for Australia’s divers this year.
World Cup selection trials were abruptly halted in Brisbane because of a lockdown, while Diving Australia opted against sending a team to the World Cup in May.
The World Cup absence meant Australia only sent seven divers to the Tokyo Olympics, and were not represented in synchronised events.