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.
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The Chinese tandem of Chen Ruolin and Liu Huixia entered the final of the women’s synchronized 10 meter platform competition expected to win the gold medal, with Ruolin on the verge of making history. A win would mean a fifth gold medal for the 23-year old diver, tying her with countrywoman Wu Minxia for the most diving gold medals won by an athlete in Olympic history.
Ruolin and Huixia got the job done, winning the gold medal with a total score of 354.00 points. Taking the silver medal was Pandelela Rinong Pamg and Cheong Jun Hoong of Malaysia, winning that nation’s first-ever Olympic medal in the event. Canada’s Meaghan Benfeito and Roseline Filion took the bronze medal, their second consecutive Olympic bronze in this event.
Since synchronized diving was added to the Summer Olympics in 2000, China has won 16 of a possible 19 gold medals.
Americans Amelia Cozad and Jessica Parratto, competing in their first Summer Olympics, finished seventh in the competition with a score of 301.02 with Mexico’s Paola Espinoza and Alejandra Orozco finishing sixth.
The women’s synchronized 10 meter platform competition was first held in the Summer Olympics in 2000 in Sydney, and China has won the gold every time. That’s the expectation going into Tuesday’s event, with Chen Ruolin and partner Liu Huixia the clear favorites to win the gold in Rio.
WATCH LIVE: Women’s synchronized 10 meter platform final — 3 p.m.
A gold medal for Chen would make history, as she would have more gold medals than any diver in Olympic history. Looking to improve on their medals from four years ago are Mexico’s Paola Espinosa & Alejandra Orozco and Canada’s Meaghan Benfeito & Roseline Filion, with the pairs winning silver and bronze respectively in London. Also in the competition are Amelia Cozad and Jessica Parratto of the United States, with both in search of their first Olympic medal.
The teams from North Korea and Great Britain are expected to contend for medals in this event.