Dethroned Tian vows to return

PUBLISHED : Monday, 30 August, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 30 August, 2004, 12:00am

Diver Tian Liang has vowed to return 'stronger than ever' after winning a consolation bronze in his favoured event, the 10-metre platform.

The Chinese star had been expected to easily retain his platform title, but was upstaged by compatriot Hu Jia, who clinched China's sixth and last diving gold.

Tian, who turned 25 last Friday, revealed that he had wanted to retire from all competition after Athens, but had been forced to put off plans as he eyed gold again in Beijing 2008. 'Getting bronze is not easy to accept, especially when you're leading in the first four rounds of competition,' he said. 'I really thought I would win gold, but I thought of gold too soon. Hu Jia's performance was fantastic and I must congratulate him.

'But this is not the end of me. I will return and I will come back stronger than ever. Getting bronze might be a good thing because it will motivate me to work harder and to train harder than ever before. I could win gold again in Beijing.

'Just you wait and see,' said the Sydney platform champion.

Tian, the boyfriend of double Athens gold medallist Guo Jingjing, said he hadn't seized the opportunity when he was leading the field going into the final round.

'I made a few errors and I paid for it dearly,' he said.

'You sometimes lose when you expect to win. But life goes on. I didn't do that bad. I still got a gold and a bronze. That is not really bad, is it?'

Tian had to settle for the bronze after compiling 729.66 points, while Hu excelled in all six dives to finish on 748.08. Australian Mathew Helm, the Barcelona World Championship silver medallist, took silver on 730.56.

With another gold medal under his belt in Athens - he won the men's synchronised 10m platform with Yang Jinghui - Tian is expected to sign new endorsement contracts that will make him a wealthy man.

The face behind such multi-national companies as Amway and Bausch & Lomb is expected to raise his fees as he promotes other brand names clamouring to sign him.