Even before pint-sized Melissa Wu stepped onto the 10-metre platform at the Diving World Series in Canada on the weekend she had rightly earned a reputation as one of sports’ most resilient athletes.
Winning silver in Windsor, and splitting the Olympic gold and silver medallists in the process, has only enhanced her reputation. Especially considering her journey so far since the Rio Olympics.
Wu posted her best ever Olympic score in Rio’s platform final, finishing fifth overall, which made it a lot easier to get back into training after a short post-Games break.
But her body didn’t feel quite right.
“I was really excited to compete at World Series this year and my preparation was going well, but I had a lot of back pain for many months and in January I found out I had two stress fractures in my back,” Wu said.
“The only way to heal my stress fractures was to rest, so I had to take time off training and then slowly rehab to make sure my injury healed properly.”
As always, Wu found it hard to stay dry for very long. She had set her sights on getting back on the world tour, even though with three Olympics and three Commonwealth Games on her CV, she had every right to take time out.
“I had a couple of weeks to get my dives ready to compete in mixed synchro in Russia and also went straight to the Grand Prix in Gatineau to compete the week after,” Wu said.
“I didn’t compete in individual because my back was still sore, which restricted me from doing one of my dives.
“I only trained my other two non-synchro dives once before my competition here in Windsor, and only decided to compete individual this week, so I was happy to put together a solid list of dives, despite not having much training behind me.”
A solid list which helped her to a 384 total, just behind Chinese Olympic silver medallist, Yajie Si (390.60), and ahead of Olympic gold medallist, Qian Ren (360.70).
Wu picked up two perfect 10’s with her third dive, but it was her consistency overall that took her to the next level.
“Before my event I was training well, but I hadn’t had very much preparation before these World Series events,” she said.
“We were lucky enough to have a training camp in Montreal last week and that was a huge help for my preparation. I was able to build up some strength and the camp was really beneficial before coming to Windsor for competition.”
Wu turns 25 next month, which will shock a lot of sports fans who have been watching in awe since she first splashed into Australian lounge rooms at the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games.
She was just 14 at the time. Her dream is to go to her fourth Commonwealth Games next year, on the Gold Coast, which will be an incredible achievement in a sport where many athletes have a fairly short shelf life.
“I’m excited that Australia will be holding another Commonwealth Games and it would be amazing to represent Australia at a second home Games,” Wu said.
“The Gold Coast is an amazing city and I have no doubt that the 2018 Commonwealth Games will be one of the best ever.”
Wu’s silver medal was the highlight on a good weekend for Australian divers in Windsor. Maddison Keeney, a bronze medallist in Rio last year, has been a model of consistency in 2017, picking up another bronze medal in the 3-metre springboard, and teaming with Kevin Chavez to win bronze in the mixed springboard synchro.
Wu also picked up a bronze alongside Commonwealth Games gold medallist, Domonic Bedggood, in the mixed platform synchro, while another Commonwealth Games gold medallist, Esther Qin, teamed with Olympic bronze medallist, Anabelle Smith, to win bronze in the women’s springboard synchro.