A leap into the unknown

Updated: 2011-03-22 07:56

By Chen Xiangfeng (China Daily)

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 A leap into the unknown

Former world and Olympic diving champion Guo Jingjing (right) and pop star Jane Zhang (Zhang Liangying) gesture with a mascot during a product signing ceremony with Chinese sportswear company Anta last week. Anta also signed tennis star Zheng Jie, who did not attend due to international commitments. Photo provided to China Daily

Diving queen Guo Jingjing is now living a quiet and normal life, but her future career and marriage still draw great interest, Chen Xiangfeng reports

No hectic training schedule, less time in the spotlight, more freedom and the biggest decision each day being what to have for a meal ... life sure has changed for retired Chinese diving queen Guo Jingjing. And the woman once one of the country's most popular sporting figures said it's a "real life" and she wouldn't want it any other way.

"I do not feel uncomfortable about my new life after retirement," said the four-time Olympic champion during a recent signing ceremony with domestic sportswear brand Anta. "I have lots of freedom right now and l like it."

China's state-supported sports system dictates that national team members are not allowed to go out without permission from coaches or officials.

"It's a good thing to leave and try something different. Everyone will get old and needs a change of lifestyle or a new career," Guo said.

She said her main problem now was deciding what to eat each day as she had become so used to the food in the big caf at the national training center.

"You did not have to worry about the meals every day as everything was always prepared for the national team.

"Now I'm struggling to think about where to have my next meal. Sometimes I even have to cook for myself. That is what I still need to get accustomed to."

A leap into the unknown

The 29-year-old star called it quits early this year and has rarely appeared in public since.

It's a world away from when she was constantly chased by media and was a prime target for advertisers and sponsors.

"I always feel uneasy in front of you guys (media)," she said with a smile. "I did not like being in the limelight or answering questions. I think a quiet and normal life suits me."

Future career

After the Beijing Olympic Games, Guo was the center of speculation about what she would do next. Her last major event was the 2009 East Asian Games in Hong Kong, where she cruised to her fifth title.

She then disappeared from the pool and her few forays into the spotlight have been in some advertisements and as a Youth Olympics ambassador.

She is now studying English and plans to continue that abroad.

"After the East Asian Games, I thought about my future for a long time.

"I still had the dream of competing at the London Games, which would have been my fifth Olympics. But I changed my mind as I found there was a rising generation in the team.

"Competing at Olympics is every athlete's dream. I told myself it was enough for me and I should give the chance of realizing that dream to younger athletes."

Guo's retirement marked the end of an era during which she set an almost unbeatable record of four Olympic gold medals, five consecutive victories in both the individual and synchronized 3m springboard at the World Championships and 17 World Cup titles.

She is not only a phenomenon on the springboard, but also an eye-catching figure away from diving venues with her good looks and well-known romance with Kenneth Fok, son of Hong Kong Olympic Committee president and tycoon, Timothy Tsun-Ting Fok.

Reports claim Guo and Fok will marry this year, but she simply said: "I do not want to talk about my private life".

(China Daily 03/22/2011 page23)


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