Wu Minxia
Getty Images

Chinese diving legend emotionally retires

Leave a comment

Wu Minxia, one of two divers to win five Olympic gold medals, announced her retirement Thursday, reportedly saying her physical condition would not allow her to compete.

Wu, 31, made the emotional announcement on Chinese TV (video here).

“I am really sorry, but my physical condition does not allow me to continue training,” Wu said on TV, according to Agence France-Presse and Reuters. “I really feared the coming of today.”

Wu hinted at retirement in a Weibo post Wednesday.

“Now, though reluctantly, it’s time to leave,” was posted, according to Reuters. “The story of Chinese diving didn’t start with me, and it won’t end with me.”

Wu contemplated retirement after the 2012 London Olympics and has had many injuries during her decorated career, most recently a reported leg injury in May. So many that she was nicknamed “The Fragile Girl.”

Wu is the only diver to win gold medals at four Olympics and, with countrywoman Chen Ruolin, one of the only two with five gold medals total.

Chen announced her retirement at age 23 in October due to injuries.

Wu made her Olympic debut at Athens 2004 at age 18, winning the first of her four straight Olympic synchronized springboard titles. The first two were with Guo Jingjing. The last two were with He Zi and Shi Tingmao.

Wu also owns a full set of individual springboard medals (silver in 2004, bronze in 2008 and gold in 2012).

Only one diver owns more Olympic medals — Russian Dmitry Sautin — who won eight from 1992 through 2008.

MORE: Barrier-breaking U.S. diver dies at age 96

Diver Sammy Lee, first Asian-American male gold medalist, dies at 96

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 18:  1948 and 1952 Olympic platform diving gold medalist Dr. Sammy Lee and Olympic diving hopeful Brittany Viola of the United States attend the Team USA Road to London 100 Days Out Celebration in Times Square on April 18, 2012 in New York City.  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images for USOC)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Dr. Sammy Lee, the first Asian-American man to win an Olympic gold medal and first male diver to repeat as Olympic champion, died of pneumonia at age 96 on Friday, according to the University of Southern California.

Lee was born in Fresno, Calif., of Korean parents.

He unretired from a medical career to compete in his first Olympics in London in 1948, after the Games took a 12-year break due to World War II.

Lee earned platform gold and springboard bronze in 1948 and then retired, unretired and defended his platform title in 1952. Lee and another Asian-American, Victoria Manolo-Draves, who had a Filipino father and English mother, both won diving titles in 1948, with Draves’ springboard gold coming first.

Lee also served in the U.S. Army Medical Corps during the Korean War.

He succeeded despite facing racial discrimination. From TeamUSA.org:

When Sammy was growing up, non-whites could use the pool where he practiced one day a week, on Wednesdays only. And then, as he has told it, the pool would be emptied after the non-whites used it, and fresh water was brought in the next day.

When the pool was off-limits, Sammy practiced by jumping into a sand pile.

Lee went on to coach divers, including Greg Louganis, after his competitive career, and continued his medical work. He graduated from USC’s medical school in 1947.

He is a member of the U.S. Olympic and International Swimming Halls of Fame.

*Correction: An earlier version of this post erroneously reported Lee was the first Asian-American Olympic champion. He was the second.

Chen Roulin ends record-breaking diving career at age 23

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 09:  Gold medalists Ruolin Chen and Huixia Liu of China pose during the medal ceremony for the Women's Diving Synchronised 10m Platform Final on Day 4 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Maria Lenk Aquatics Centre on August 9, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Chen Ruolin, who won gold in all five of her platform diving events across three Olympics, has retired at age 23 due to injuries, specifically a neck problem, according to Chinese media reports.

“She has a neck injury, which may cause some problems if she continues with her career,” a Chinese team manager said, according to the South China Morning Post. “Chen had great courage to get past the Rio Games, but now she has virtually retired. She could still have a lot more to offer due to her age, skills and experience in the sport.”

Chen swept individual and synchro platform golds in 2008 (at age 15) and 2012 and bagged another synchro title in Rio, joining teammate Wu Minxia as the only divers to earn five Olympic golds. They share the Chinese record of five Olympic gold medals with gymnast Zou Kai.

Wu may have ended her career at the Rio Olympics, too. She has left the national team, according to the newspaper.

Chen struggled with injuries and contemplated retirement between 2012 and 2016. She was surpassed by younger women in China’s deep system of individual platform divers but kept a sterling record in synchro, winning every World Cup, World Championships and Olympic title between 2006 and 2016.

Chen also lit the cauldron at the 2014 Youth Olympics in Nanjing, China.

MORE: David Boudia had suicidal thoughts after 2008 Olympics