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Battler Sautin taks bow with seventh medal

Russian diving legend Dmitri Sautin took an Olympic bow with a bronze medal which was the seventh in the illustrious career.
PTI | By Emmeline Moore (AFP), Athens
PUBLISHED ON AUG 25, 2004 06:43 PM IST

Russian diving legend Dmitri Sautin took an Olympic bow with a bronze medal which was the seventh in the illustrious career of the four-time Olympian.

The 30-year-old, already the most decorated diver in Olympic history, has battled through injury to make it to the podium time and time again.

His results speak for themselves - two gold, a silver and four bronze - over four Olympics.

This time he made it to the podium with a third place finish in the three-metre springboard after being forced to miss several months at the start of the year with a dislocated shoulder.

It was just the latest in a series of injuries which have plagued him for over a decade, but although Athens will be his last Games, Sautin has not ruled out continuing to compete.

"This is my last performance and probably my last Olympics I can say that," said the man from Voronezh.

"My body has suffered a lot of scars and operations. My bones aren't what they used to be.

"It's hard, I have a lot of aches and pains this year and I had to convalesce. There's a possibility that I will be involved in sychronised diving if I can, but for now I just have to rest."

His injuries, as his diving, are legendary, in 1991 he almost died after being repeatedly stabbed after an argument at a bus stop in Moscow, spending two months in hosptial, but came back to take springboard bronze the following year in Barcelona.

He competed at the 1996 Atlanta Games with an injured left wrist and won gold in the 10-metre platform, having surgery after that Olympics.

Further back and wrist problems plagued him before Sydney, which was his most successful Games, winning the synchronised 10-metre platform gold and completing his set with silver in the three-metre synchronised springboard and bronze in the three-metre springboard.

This time it was a dislocated shoulder.

"At the beginning of the year my shoulder was out of joint and I just thank God I was able to come back and win this medal.

"It's hard for me to get across the state of bliss I'm in with this seventh Olympic medal. This bronze medal makes me extremely happy. I'm just happy that I could come back and win at the Olympics."

In addition he has won five world titles including back-to-back in both the springboard and platform in 1998 and 2001.

His only disappointment was not finishing with a gold after he and synchronised springboard partner Alexander Dobroskok, the world champions, collapsed to second last a week ago after Sautin hit his head on the board.

But even now he can still intimidate his competitors.

"He's a tough competitor because he's strong from both a technical and psychological point of view," said Chinese springboard champion Peng Bo.

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