May 21 -- Since she won her first gold medal at the World Swimming Championships
as a teenage schoolgirl, diving has dominated Gao Min's life. Now the double
Olympic gold medalist and a cheerleader for the Beijing Games says family and
fun come first.
Gao Min's File photo.(Xinhua
"What I am doing now is just for fun. Diving is no
longer my whole life and my family takes priority," Gao told China Daily.
"I love to show my strong support for the Beijing
Games and I also learn a lot from these new experiences."
The 36-year-old "Diving Queen" now spends her time
sharing stories on her blog, hosting Olympic TV programs, attending various
Olympic-themed activities and even participating in an ongoing contest to find
designs for the Chinese medalists at the Beijing Games.
Gao, who won Olympic gold at the 3-meter springboard
in both 1988 and 1992, also finds time to play badminton with her celebrity
friends and serve as the vice-president of a local soccer club where her two
"I don't want to force them to follow in my footsteps
and become professional players," she said. "I told my sons that sport is like a
force that can help you get through all of the difficulties in your life. It
doesn't matter whether you win or lose, just give it your best shot."
Born in Zigong, Sichuan Province, Gao is regarded as
one of the greatest female springboard divers in the history of the sport. Since
winning her first major international title at the age of 16 in 1986, she
remained unbeaten in international competitions over the next seven years.
She remains the only female diver to surpass the
600-point mark on the springboard, and her record of 635 remains beyond the
reach of most of today's international crop.
She notched 580.23 en route to winning China's first
Olympic gold on the springboard at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, and repeated the
feat in 1992 at Barcelona. In between, she won three world championships,
captured double gold at the 1990 Beijing Asian Games, and was voted one of the
nation's top 40 sports stars since the founding of the People's Republic of
China in 1949.
Gao was chosen as the World Best Diver of the Year by
US magazine Swimming World from 1987 to 1989 and the Woman's World Springboard
Diver of the Year for a record seven consecutive years from 1986 to 1992. In
2003 she was inducted to the Women's Sports Hall Of Fame.
But Gao retired soon after the 1992 Barcelona Games,
when a combination of hard training, injuries and pressure saw four doctors
tending to her for the two-week duration. When she finally stepped up to accept
her gold medal, she couldn't help crying.
"I was so tired and I had lived under such intense
pressure for such a long time that I just wanted to live a simple life," she
She wrote down her feelings at the time on her blog.
"I was so tired and wanted to have a rest. I didn't
want to travel around the world and win the competitions. At midnight, I always
In 1995, she waved farewell to her glorious career in
China and flew to the US in pursuit of a new life.
Two years later, she went to Canada, where she
coached the Edmonton Kinsmen Diving Club until she returned to China in 2005. In
Edmonton, Alberta, Gao produced many national team divers and helped further the
development of the sport in Canada.
"I really enjoyed the life in Canada," she said. "The
work in the club was quite easy for me and in my spare time I was a happy
But the world has not forgotten Gao's
When New York City was bidding to host the 2012
Summer Olympics, Gao was invited as a special representative from Asia. She was
one of only five athletes from around the world to be honored when the city
celebrated its 100th anniversary on New Year's Eve in Times Square.
"This is such good news, such a wonderful honor," Gao
said when she received the invitation. "I am very honored to take part in this
ceremony and to represent China and Asia. It is especially meaningful for me
because of Beijing hosting the 2008 Summer Olympics."
(Source: China Daily)