By Lu Nengneng | 2012-12-5 | NEWSPAPER EDITION
AFTER winning her first and long-awaited individual gold medal at the 2012 London Olympic Games, diving queen Wu Minxia has received another prize she has long dreamed of: the keys to a BMW.
Last month, one of the most decorated female divers in Olympic history got behind the wheel of her dream car, a pale gold BMW 530Li, at a ceremony last month in Shanghai.
"BMW brand culture has many things in common with sports, like creating passions and dreams. That's what most attracts me to BMW," the Shanghai native says.
With the "beautiful lines and artistic character" in its cars, BMW reminds her of diving, says Wu, who won the three-meter springboard in London.
To share the "BMW JOY" and encourage more people to pursue their dreams, Wu and six other Chinese Olympic gold medalists recently joined the BMW Olympic Dream Action.
Having practiced dives for almost 20 years, 27-year-old Wu is living proof that persistence pays off.
Before winning gold in the individual 3m springboard in London this August, Wu had lost out to her legendary teammate Guo Jingjing in two previous consecutive Olympic Games in the same event.
In 2004, Wu won silver in Athens and in 2008 she won bronze in Beijing in the individual 3m springboard. But she wanted to push herself and take gold.
"That's why I put my focus and hope on the 2012 London Games, but I never thought about achieving anything specific," she says. "I just wanted to enjoy the process (of striving). It is an accumulation of experience and a treasure in my life."
Practice makes perfect. In London, Wu claimed the first perfect individual score of 10 in the three-meter springboard and pulled off an unprecedented hat-trick of synchronized three-meter springboard champion titles, matching teammate Guo's six-medal record in the Olympic diving pool.
Wu says some athletes are born with talent, but many more are made by diligence and hard work.
"Those competing in sports face various adversities. If you cannot even overcome yourself, especially mentally, you can never reach the peak."
When she was a child watching television, she longed for her own championship moment as she saw Chinese male and female divers applauded on Olympic podiums. She soon discovered that behind the glory are plenty of tears and pain.
Sports injuries have plagued Wu throughout her career, sometimes forcing her to take pain medication to continue training, and even costing her the chance to compete in critical games.
Today she says she has learned to consider injuries to be "old friends," preparing to take them along on the next leg of her journey as an athlete.
"Speaking from my heart, I want to hold on year by year," Wu says. "I have realized my dream of winning an individual Olympic gold medal. In the future, I think my training is more for my love of diving."
It's too early to say whether she will compete in the Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. "It is hard to become a professional athlete, but you have to make decisions based on the age and capabilities," Wu says. "When it is the right time, I think there can be a transformation."
In addition to diving, Wu studies business administration at Renmin University of China in Beijing, aiming for the skills that can help her realize new dreams after she retires as an athlete.
"I think my life will still have connections with diving and sports," Wu says. "I hope I can contribute to the development of China's sports. I want to promote diving and get more people involved."
Though diving is not a popular sport because it's so demanding, Wu says she can help people appreciate its beauty.