Laura Wilkinson defies the odds to reach the finals of the United States Olympic Trials.
It’s difficult to envision one of the world’s top divers being dismissed from their high school’s swimming and diving team for being a “waste of space.” Laura Wilkinson claimed that’s exactly what her coach informed her she was in the mid-1990s, which is why she had to leave her school’s squad in the Houston area.
She went on to become a national club champion in The Woodlands and a two-time NCAA champion at the University of Texas shortly after that. Despite having three fractured bones in her right foot, she won the 2000 Olympic gold medal on the 10-meter platform, and she retired in 2008 to establish a family.
“I was fatigued, beat up, and wanted a break when I retired in 2008,” Wilkinson stated in 2017. “I still enjoyed the sport, but I wanted a break from it, and my husband and I were eager to create a family.”
Over the last two Olympic quadrennia, she has worked for NBC as a broadcaster for Olympic diving tryouts and the Olympic Games themselves.
She was itching to get back on the platform after the 2012 London Summer Games. She gradually regained her fitness while raising her four children with her husband, Eriek Hulseman.
She didn’t have access to a pool near her house in Spring, Texas, so she depended on a lot of indoor training with dry landings. The nearest site to train off a 10-meter platform into water was the Texas A&M University natatorium, which was an hour distant.
Then, in March 2020, the COVID-19 global pandemic, which began in March of that year, threw a new wrench into her training for the Olympic Diving Trials, which she needed to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Summer Games. Local schools and practice facilities began to close. That meant working out with limited time, space, and privacy while parenting four small children at home.
Now, with the U.S. Diving Olympic Team Trials happening in Indianapolis, Indiana, Wilkinson finds herself back into the finals. She finished ninth in the semifinals on Wednesday night, and she’ll dive Sunday night for a chance to make it back to Tokyo. The men’s 3-meter springboard finals will begin at 6:35 p.m. ET on Sunday, followed by the women’s 10-meter. This is a brief summary.