In the pool deck, as a member of the FINA Technical Diving Committee, she remains discreet, making sure with her colleagues that everything is in place for the optimal organisation of the diving events at the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires (ARG). She is happy to be on the “other side” of the curtain, after an amazing career that ended after the 2016 Olympics in Rio 2016. By then, she had accumulated five Games’ gold medals and had been 10 times on the podium (including six on the highest march) of the FINA World Championships. She is one of the best divers in history: Chen Ruolin, from China.

Competing at the 2013 FINA World Championships in Barcelona (ESP)

Competing in 10m platform, she earned gold in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics in Beijing and London, respectively, in the individual and synchro event. In Brazil, two years ago, she partnered with Liu Huixia and obtained a last title in the 10m platform synchro. Shortly after, she announced her retirement. In her 10 successful years as a top-level athlete (she first shone at the 2006 FINA World Cup, with the gold in the 10m synchro event), she also collected 10 medals at the FINA showcase, from 2007 to 2015, including five consecutive titles in the synchro competition. She is, along with 3m springboard queen Guo Jingjing, one of the most recognisable faces in Chinese diving and certainly one of the world icons of the discipline.  

In 2014, at the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing (CHN), she was chosen as the last torch bearer of the Olympic flame, confirming her status of Chinese star. “I was very excited to have the Youth Olympic Games in our country. As the last torch bearer, I felt very honoured to be in that position and it is still an exceptional memory for me!”, confesses Chen.

Meeting old friends in Buenos Aires: Rommel Pacheco (MEX), on the left, and Roseline Filion (CAN), on the right

Despite not having competed in this event, the Chinese great considers that it is “an excellent opportunity for the younger athletes”. And she proceeds: “If the time could go back, I would very much appreciate competing in the YOG. It is very important that this competition exists, as it can gather athletes from this age group, who don’t have so many opportunities to compete internationally at this level. It’s a terrific experience for these athletes, as they are also aware of the Olympic ideals from an early stage”. 

Elected “FINA Best Female Diver of the Year” in 2010, Chen has no doubts that the YOG can be a good platform to the young divers: “It’s a continuous progress, a step-by-step road, in which you acquire more experience and you improve your condition. You get more mature, and your development is progressing”, she says.

Gold at the 2012 Olympics in London (GBR)

As an inspirational model for all those competing in Buenos Aires, she gives her philosophy on how to succeed in such a demanding sport: “Try always your best, not only to get medals, but also gold medals. Aim always high, grab you chance, so that your country can also be proud of your achievements”. And for the ones that may doubt of their performances, she leaves a wise advice: “Everything is possible! Each and every athlete competing here has his/her chance. Not only the ones getting a medal, but all of them”.

Besides being part of the FINA Technical Diving Committee, Chen is also trying to give her precious contribution to the development of diving in China, the world powerhouse in the discipline. “After I retired, I went to university to study Administration Management. Now, I am starting working on this area with the staff leading our sport in China. It’s a good opportunity and I am happy to be helping in this area”, she concludes.