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Laura Wilkinson - "do It For Hilary"

platform championships national synchronized

The final round of the platform diving event included five dives by each of the qualifying athletes. Wilkinson gave solid performances in her first two dives, but she still trailed several other competitors. She then performed a near-perfect third dive, a reverse two-and-a-half somersault tuck, which earned a score of 9.5 from most of the judges. It would be the highest-scoring dive of the night, and it moved her into the lead. The Chinese divers could have come back to take the lead, but both of them faltered: Li garnered average scores, fives and sixes, while Sang did a belly flop and scored as low as 3.5. This was the opening that Wilkinson needed.

But Wilkinson's fourth dive was an inward two-anda-half somersault in the pike position, the dive that she had broken her foot practicing in March. It had made her nervous ever since, and just that morning she had done a poor job with it in the preliminary round. It was also painful, since to take off she had to stand on her tiptoes with much of her weight on the lump of fused bone under her right foot. She would have substituted another dive, but the rest of her dives required running starts.

As Wilkinson began climbing to the top of the platform, Armstrong told her, "Do it for Hilary." Hilary Grivich was a former member of the University of Texas diving team who had been killed in an automobile accident three years earlier. "I'm thinking, 'What is he trying to do to me?' Then, everything clicked," Wilkinson recalled to Linda Robertson of the Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service. "I thought of all the kids on the team who had written me good luck cards. The whole meet wasn't about winning anymore. It was about the journey." Wilkinson got to the top of the tower, recited her favorite Bible verse—"I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me"—as she does before every dive, and then did her inward two-and-a-half somersault pike near perfectly, earning scores between 8.5 and 9.5. Li recovered from her poor third dive to close to within two points of Wilkinson, but in the end Li could not overtake her. Wilkinson won the gold.

Chronology

1977 Born November 17 in Houston, Texas
1993 Begins diving in May
1995 Makes U.S. national diving team
1996 Begins attending the University of Texas
2000 Breaks her right foot in three places in a training accident March 8
2000 Has surgery to repair broken foot November 14
2001 Graduates from the University of Texas in Austin in December
2002 Last year on U.S. national diving team
2002 Marries Eriek Hulseman September 7

Awards and Accomplishments

1995 HTH Classic, synchronized platform (with Patty Armstrong)
1995 U.S. National Outdoor Championships, synchronized platform (with Patty Armstrong)
1996 U.S. National Indoor Championships, synchronized platform (with Patty Armstrong)
1996 U.S. National Outdoor Championships, synchronized platform and synchronized 3-meter springboard (with Patty Armstrong)
1997 U.S. National Outdoor Championships, platform and 3-meter springboard
1997 World Championship Team Trials, platform
1997-98 Big XII Conference Championships, platform
1997, 1999 National Collegiate Athletic Association Championships, platform
1998 U.S. National Indoor Championships, platform
1998 Goodwill Games, platform
1999 Big XII Conference Championships, platform and 3-meter springboard
1999, 2002 U.S. National Outdoor Championships, platform
2000 All American-Austin Cup, 3-meter springboard
2000 U.S. Olympic Team Trials, platform
2000 Communidad de Madrid, platform and synchronized platform (with Jenny Keim)
2000 U.S. National Outdoor Championships, platform and synchronized platform (with Jenny Keim)
2000 Olympic gold medal, platform
2000 Named U.S. Diving Athlete of the Year
2000-01 Named Female Diver of the Year by the U.S. Olympic Committee
Laura Wilkinson - Chronology [next] [back] Laura Wilkinson - Low Expectations

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