Her platform of glory will make us ordinary people shiver with apprehension. But Chinese diving diva Fu Mingxia is once again enjoying the thrill of living life at the very edge. 'When I stand on the edge, my reputation helps me. Others feel frightened of me and I think that helps a lot,' Fu said. That in a nutshell is why the three-time Olympic gold medallist thinks she is the best female diver in the world. And this September, in Sydney, she will try to remind the world how good she is as she dives for gold again. Not that the five-foot-two waif - who is on the comeback trail after a shock retirement and three-year sabbatical from international competition - needs to impress. She has been there and done it. Flipping and falling, twisting and turning, Fu has entered Olympic folklore by being the only woman in history to win three diving golds. Her legend will grow even more if she wins the three-metre springboard event at the Sydney Aquatic Centre and also the synchronised diving event being held for the first time at the Olympic Games. 'It would be great if I can win five gold medals. That is my target. I'm happy as it is with three. But two more would be a bonus,' says Fu with a smile playing across her demure features. Fu, who was in Hong Kong for an international competition last weekend, will not be taking part in the 10-metre platform event where she won Olympic golds in 1992 and 1996. 'I will be only focusing on the springboard because I have put on more weight and height now. It is also better for me to concentrate on one event,' said Fu. While pounds and inches might be one reason why Fu is concentrating on just one individual event - she will partner teammate Guo Jingjing, the budding new star in the Chinese team, in the synchronised diving event - there are whispers that she put her foot down firmly when Chinese officials asked her to defend both her titles in Sydney. At the last Olympic Games in Atlanta, Fu spirited away both the three-metre springboard and 10-metre platform golds and in the process became the first woman in 36 years to win both events in a single Olympics. But soon after her stunning success, Fu stepped out of the limelight and away from international competition, citing burnout. China and the rest of the world was shocked to hear that she had retired. 'I retired because I was tired physically and mentally. I just wanted a rest. You cannot imagine how much I suffered while practising for the '96 Olympics. 'I was crying all the time before the Olympics. I had to keep my body weight in check and it was very tough and very hard to bear. There was so much pressure on me,' Fu said. Her back-breaking schedule included training seven to eight hours a day, six days a week. It is estimated that she was doing more than 100 dives a day. Imagine time and again jumping off a platform three stories high. It was all in pursuit of the Olympic dream. 'When I won my first gold medal in Barcelona in 1992, there was no pressure on me at all. I didn't even think I could win. But 1996 in Atlanta was very different. Everyone expected so much of me. I had also grown up . . . I was not a child anymore and that was also a big difference.' In Barcelona she was a mere pipsqueak, only 13, when she won the platform gold. Four years later, the grown up Fu twisted her body into exquisite knots to enthrall the Atlanta judges with her arrow-straight perfect landings in the water. 'That was the most memorable time of my life. Winning two golds,' she says. She then walked away from it all. But it was not that simple. She had to petition the Chinese Government for permission. It was granted and she went away to study economics at Beijing's Qinghua University. But with the fire rekindled, Fu was back this past weekend, training and getting a buzz out of competition. 'I discovered that I was still getting a thrill from diving when I took part in the University Games last year. I knew that diving still meant a lot to me.' At the University Games in Spain last July, Fu relegated two of the world's best - Russians Irina Lashko and Yulia Pakhalina - to the minor placings, proving that she still had it in her. And this after a three-year break. Fu said then: 'I think this is good preparation for the Sydney Olympics.' The Russians, who each won a title at the 1998 World Championships in her absence, must be worried that Fu is back. Fu herself thinks her greatest obstacle to winning gold in the three-metre springboard will be teammate Guo. 'She will be my biggest opponent. But if she wins I won't mind because what matters is that China wins the gold. I'm more confident of winning the doubles [synchronised diving] than the singles,' says Fu. Fu was discovered by Chinese coach Yu Fen at the age of 10 in Hubei province. She was taken 600 miles from her home and brought to Beijing. China's state-sponsored sports machine took over and moulded her into a champion. Two years later, in 1991, she won gold at the world championships, becoming the youngest diver ever to do so. Then began her wondrous journey which took her to three gold medals at two Olympics. But at the end, she felt old and worn-out - at just 18. But after three years in the wilderness, she is out of retirement and back in the hunt. 'My university had set up a diving team and I thought I would give it a try. I have not forgotten,' she smiles mischievously. She refuses to contemplate what the future holds for her. Will she retire again after Sydney? Permanently? 'It is hard to say. As long as I like diving I will continue. I don't know how long I will last. All I can say now is that I will think about my future after the Olympics. I have achieved a lot. But one day someone will beat me.' She will take a lot of beating. Fu, who turns 22 just before the Sydney Games, is standing on the threshold of history - she is just one gold shy of the record of four shared by American divers Greg Louganis and Pat McCormack. Soon after winning in Atlanta, Fu said she will 'take it step by step and see what happens'. Well, she has retired and announced her comeback with a stunning performance which eclipsed the Russians at the University Games. Can she now get that perfect five? Millions of fans in China will be hoping so as they cheer on the elfin girl who lives life right on the edge.