Why Diver Laura Wilkinson Captured Everyone's Hearts

It was about the journey as much as the destination for the Olympic hopeful
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 16, 2021 10:40 AM CDT

There's nothing surprising about a former Olympic gold medalist trying to secure a place in the Tokyo Games—with one exception, maybe. That would be Laura Wilkinson, who on Sunday finished 10th in the women's 10-meter platform finals (watch one of her dives here), meaning she won't be Japan-bound. So why did she get a standing ovation from every person in the building after her last dive? Her age. Wilkinson, who won gold in the 2000 Sydney Games at age 22, was attempting a comeback as a 43-year-old mother of four. "I'm kind of just surprised I'm doing it, honestly," Wilkinson told USA Today earlier this month. "When I retired at 30 I was old back then, so this whole journey has just been a crazy, fun road."

Click2Houston reports her first dive ended up netting her highest score, and she told the station, "I started off strong and then my fourth one was pretty good, so there was some good stuff in there." Making the "good stuff" all the more impressive: The Today Show reports that in 2018 she had significant surgery on her spine to remove two degenerated disks and bone spurs from her neck; surgeons told her it was possible she would emerge unable to ever dive again. USA Today notes that since Wilkinson's 2000 win, no American woman has won an Olympic diving medal. (More uplifting news stories.)

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