AP Sports Writer
LONDON (AP) - Melissa Wu knew her father would never let her get a tattoo when she turned 18. So, she went to her mother instead.
Not that she truly needed their approval. Wu has come along way since capturing an Olympic silver medal in women's diving four years ago in Beijing at 16. She has become an adult, making her own decisions.
The Australian diver's body is now decorated with her own version of the Olympic rings _ they're in the shape of hearts _ tattooed high on her upper right thigh, and another of a special saying stretching from her right side onto her back.
"It says, 'Only as much as I dream can I be,'" Wu said. "I had to wait a little bit until I was 18 to get it done. Obviously, the rings, because it means a lot and it's a real honor to represent my country at the Olympic Games. But I wanted to personalize it a little bit, make it more me, I guess. A bit different."
Wu paired with Briony Cole to win an Olympic silver medal in the synchronized 10-meter platform in 2008 and also finished sixth in the individual platform event.
On Wednesday, Wu will compete in the preliminaries of the 10-meter platform looking to top her last Olympics.
So much has changed for Wu since Beijing. She moved away from her family in Brisbane for Sydney to train alongside defending Olympic 10-meter platform men's champion Matthew Mitcham. She changed coaches and began university courses.
Wu, who stands just shy of 5 feet tall, is all about fashion. She loves wearing high heels and takes both media and fashion business courses at college.
"All of those were positive steps for me," said Wu, whose father is of Chinese descent. "I think I've really grown up a lot since Beijing. I'm used to being busy and having a lot of things to focus on, so when I come away to (competition), for me it's about trying to sort of replicate being at home."
Mitcham made his own Olympic history four years ago by winning the only non-Chinese diving gold in Beijing with an upset victory in the 10-meter platform on the final night. He begins his attempt to defend his title in Friday's preliminaries.
A spot on the podium for Wu and Mitcham in the Olympics' final week would help take some of the sting away for the Aussies' aqua sports contingent in London after their country's swimming struggles.
Swimming Australia announced Monday it would undergo an independent review following the federation's failure to win an individual gold medal in the pool for the first time since the 1976 Montreal Games.
Yet Wu isn't putting add pressure on herself this time.
Once she climbs the ladder up to the platform at the Aquatics Centre, the soft-spoken Wu slaps her purple towel on her legs to dry off and gets to work.
The 20-year-old Wu obliged when one of her competitors stopped her on the board during training to admire her ink. She came to London committed to enjoying those moments more than she did in her first Olympics.
"I think the way that works best for me is to try and relax more," Wu said. "I guess I was too serious in Beijing and too focused on the competition. I didn't really enjoy the experience that much. Over the years I've learned to sort of soak it up more and appreciate the experiences more. Coming into London, that's what I've tried to do. I definitely enjoy it a lot more. I try not to be confined to my room and get some fresh air."
Wu is back to diving at full strength after a year of frustration in 2011, when she was forced to pull out of several individual competitions because of injuries to her back and both hips. While she continued to participate in synchronized platform events, one specific dive in her individual routine was too painful for her troublesome back.
She still has to closely monitor her injuries and opts to rest when she senses her body needs a break.
"I probably should have had time off but I tried to dive through it," Wu said. "It's more manageable now."
Wu hopes her emergence in diving will encourage children back home to follow suit in the sport and further build the national program.
"Diving's not very big in Australia, it's not very high profile," Wu said. "I think since I've been diving, the generation before me since Athens helped to boost the profile of the sport. It's a good chance for us to get our names out there, our faces, and encourage some younger people to start diving as well."
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