Australia's Brittany Broben competes in the women's 10m platform semi-finals.

Australia's Brittany Broben competes in the women's 10m platform semi-finals. Photo: AFP

Australia's youngest Olympian in London, 16-year-old diver Brittany Broben, is not sure when she has to resume her Year 11 studies at Marymount College on the Gold Coast.

But when she does, the silver medal she won in the 10-metre individual final on Thursday is bound to get a prominent mention at school assembly.

Broben, who does not turn 17 until November 23, finished second to China's 19-year-old Chen Ruolin, who retained the title she won four years ago in Beijing by an overwhelming 55.80 points.

Australia's Brittany Broben competes in the women's 10m platform diving . Photo by AFP Click for more photos

Australia's youngest Olympian wins silver

Australia's Brittany Broben competes in the women's 10m platform diving . Photo by AFP

  • Australia's Brittany Broben competes in the women's 10m platform diving . Photo by AFP
  • Broben after a dive in the 10m platform event. Photo by Getty Images
  • Broben in action during the 10m platform diving final. Photo by Getty Images
  • Broben after a dive in the 10m platform final. Photo by Reuters
  • Broben looks on after completing a dive in the final. Photo by Getty Images
  • Broben  in full flight. Photo by AFP
  • Broben takes the plunge. Photo by Getty Images
  • Broben celebrates after winning silver. Photo by Getty Images
  • Silver medalist Brittany Broben hugs her coach. Photo by AP
  • Silver medallist Brittany Broben of Australia, gold medallist Ruolin Chen of China, and bronze medallist Pandelela Pamg of Malaysia during the medal ceremony for the 10m platform diving final. Photo by Getty Images

This event was always going to be a battle for silver and bronze, and heading into the fifth and final round of dives, both were up for grabs. At that point, Broben was fourth, just 0.90 points behind Mexican Paola Espinosa Sanchez. She scored an 81.60 for her back 2 1/2 with 1 1/2 twist pike, enough to finish runner-up.

Her roommate in the athletes' village, Sydney's Melissa Wu, placed fourth, missing the bronze medal by 1.1 points.

An ecstatic Broben was unsurprisingly in no rush to return to reading, writing and arithmetic, preferring to soak up what she described as a surreal moment.

"It feels like a dream but I never want to wake up from it, because it's just so exciting,'' she said.

"It's unbelievable. It's the best thing that's ever happened to me.''

Broben joked that she "nearly fell off the platform" because her legs were shaking so much before her final fling.

"It was really scary, I must admit,'' she said.

"My coach was like: 'What happens, happens. Just do it and have fun'.

"But I knew it had to be pretty good to get a medal, because there was what, like six points between all of us, except the Chinese girl.

VIDEO: Broben silver a 'dream come true' 

"But I just wanted to do it. I really, really wanted to do it.''

Broben said her schoolfriends were "going to be really excited'' but was undecided when she would rejoin them in the classroom.

"When do I go back to school? I'm not sure,'' she said.

"I think not for a little while. But I have junior world championships in a couple of months, so I have to go back to training pretty soon.''

Although disappointed with her own near miss, Wu said Broben's performance was well deserved.

"I'm so happy for her,'' Wu said.

"It was just amazing seeing her up there, the look on her face. I know how hard she trains and how hard she works, and the sacrifices she makes.''

On the subject of sacrifices, Broben's mother Janine deserves a gold medal.

For the past two years they have spent 18 hours a week driving to and from Brisbane for training sessions,  so the medal was as much a reward for her mum's dedication.

Mrs Broben said her attitude to the long hours at the wheel was that if Brittany was happy to do it, so was she.

"She believed in herself for a long, long time . . . so it didn't faze me to drive, I just did it,'' she said.

"Because she never complained about getting up in the morning — she never said 'I dont want to do it', she juggled school and this and that and the distance — I just said: 'You're making sacrifrices and we'll make sacrifices too'.''

Mrs Broben said her daughter's teachers were "so proud and supportive'' of her diving career.

"She's got one week off and she goes back to training,'' she said.

"The teachers are ready and waiting to give her all the tutoring and all the help she can get to get her over the line to get her past year 11. But we'll see, it's up to her.''

Broben, who took up diving at the age of 11 after being injured at gymnastics and having her talent identified by Athens 2004 gold medallist Chantelle Newbery, is not the youngest overall medallist in London.

She is 38 days older than US gymnast Gabby Douglas, who has won two gold medals at these games.

Broben scored an overall tally of 366.50 from her five dives. Wu finished fourth with 358.10 points.

Chen's triumph was China's fifth gold medal of the six diving events contested so far in London.

"She's unbelievable,'' Broben said.

"She deserves it. She obviously works so hard for it and she dived the best today ... I'm so thrilled that I could come second.

"She's obviously kept her momentum going from Beijing. She's just a wonderful diver and to be in the competition with her was great.''