Melissa Wu – From Prodigy to Legend!

Melissa Wu

Melissa Wu – From Prodigy to Legend!

Kinda dusty in here! A silent embrace that says so much about sacrifice, overcoming doubts & persistence. In her 4th Olympics trying for an individual medal, Melissa Wu finally transitioned from child prodigy to legend with a brilliant bronze in the 10m diving.

Since her Commonwealth Games debut at 13 and winning a team silver as a 16 year old at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the proud Chinese-Australian diver has fallen short of a medal as an individual diver. In Beijing in 2008 she finished sixth, four years later in London she finished fourth, while in Rio in 2016 she was fifth.

The cumulative toll of a long career of competition caused a catalogue of injuries including shoulder, rib, knee, wrist, neck and back issues which triggered doubts and serious thoughts of retirement.

Outside the pool she has battled bullying, depression and the tragic death of her sister Kirsten by suicide in 2014, which plunged her life into chaos. The diving community got around her with Melissa noting to “You don’t get over it … time just passes and you just get used to living with it. Diving saved me, helped me. I looked at diving differently after that.”

Her sister has remained a presence throughout the Tokyo Olympics, and Melissa shared her inner thoughts with the Age: “I definitely have been thinking about her and it’s been really hard … I know she’s always with me and I have her now in a way I didn’t have before. I get to share this in a different way with her.”

Melissa has developed a new perspective through the journey: “I appreciate these Olympics a lot more because I have been through a lot these last few years. To be able to overcome that and see what I am made of is a huge achievement. I’m finally proud of myself, it’s taken a while, but you take the good with the bad.”

It took two brilliant Chinese child prodigies Quan Hongchan and Chen Yuxi to beat her with diving perfection but she stuck at her goal and 4th time lucky she took her place on the podium.

Road tested experience and the guidance of friends, family and coaches have combined to give her a healthy mental framework: “I’ve learnt to look at the big picture and keep things in perspective. Often, things don’t go to plan but it’s not the end of the world. The true test of character is how you react to those situations.”

She reacted incredibly to the pressure in Tokyo, diving with calm and composure and after collecting her medal, shared her grief at the recent death of her grandmother: “She was very close to me and I think this medal is very important to me because she didn’t get to see me win it, and that would have been very important to her.”

When Melissa stood on the podium, she stood for her country and family, past and present and for herself, living the personal mission of her tattoo which reads: “Only as much as I dream, can I be.”

You got there Melissa!


Image Source: AAP

Keen to learn more or engage the Chinese community in Australia? Contact our team at [email protected]

Patrick Skene

Patrick Skene is a founder and Chief Creative Officer of Cultural Pulse. Patrick works with over 100 communities and creates compelling content for clients to engage with them. He is a storyteller, marketer, writer and author of ‘The Big O, The Life & Times of Olsen Filipaina‘ which has gone into reprint. His stories on the intersection of sport, history and culture have been published by The Guardian Australia, the Age, the Sydney Morning Herald and Inside Sport. He is currently the proud coach of the Rockdale Raiders Under 8B1’s football team.