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Cao Yuan goes his own way

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21-year-old Cao Yuan is one of China’s shining diving stars, being two-time Olympic champion and defending world champion in 3 m synchro. Cao will be among the favourites in the 2017 FINA World Championships as well.

China has always been the dominant diving nation in the history of the FINA World Championships, winning 75 gold, 45 silver and 23 bronze medals in total. The United States are second in the ranking with 13 gold, 14 silver and 14 bronze medals.

China has plenty of great divers, Cao Yuan is one of them. Not to confuse with Yuan Cao, who is as popular in China as the 21-year-old athlete, but actually she is an actress…

Cao took up diving at age 5, since his mother wanted him to learn discipline, so she enrolled him in diving classes. His idol was the two-time Olympic and three-time world champion former diver Tian Liang, who became an actor after finishing his professional sport career. (So after all, diving and acting must have a strong relationship…)

His international debut was in 2009, and two years later it was a big disappointment for him that he missed the FINA World Championships in Shanghai due to injury. At the 2012 Olympics, however, he was unstoppable: he won the gold medal with his partner Zhang Yanquan in 10 m synchro by a large margin.

Cao and Zhang finished third at the 2013 FINA World Championships in the same event, but Cao became a world champion two years later in Kazan, winning the gold medal in 3 m synchro with Qin Kai. They won bronze at the 2016 Olympics in Rio, but Cao won the 3 m springboard competition.

He was named the 2014 Male Diver of the Year by the International Swimming Federation [FINA], and in the same year he received the May 4th Youth Medal from the city of Beijing in the People's Republic of China.

His motto is quite thought-provoking:

"Go your own way and see your own scenery. Be calm about life's ups and downs."


Born: Beijing (China), February 7, 1995

Medal record:

Two-time Olympic champion (2012 London, 10 m synchro; 2016 Rio de Janeiro, 3 m springboard); Olympic bronze medallist (2016 Rio de Janeiro, 3 m synchro)

World champion (2015 Kazan, 3 m synchro); bronze medallist (2013 Barcelona, 10 m synchro)

FINA Diving World Series: winner of 19 legs

FINA Grand Prix: two-time winner