Kassidy Cook and Abby Johnston have secured the opportunity to compete at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games by placing first and second, respectively, in the women's 3-meter springboard event Sunday afternoon at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Diving at the Indiana University Natatorium in Indianapolis.
At the beginning of this week's Olympic Trials, only one Olympic spot was at stake, but USA Diving was notified Friday that it had received a second berth when FINA completed the reallocation of unused spots. That opened the way for Johnston to make her second Olympic team.
Many family and friends, including her five siblings, arrived to see her dive in the finals. For most, it was the first time for them to see her compete since 2012 when she just missed making the Olympic team and then suffered a series of injuries.
"It's kind of been the fuel to my fire for the last four years," said Cook.
Cook unofficially became the 23rd athlete with local ties to earn a spot on the U.S. Olympic team.
Cook, 21, broke onto the international scene as a junior when she swept all three gold medals at the 2005 Junior Pan American Championships, the first of seven golds won at the event through 2009. In 2010 she took the 1-meter and 3-meter titles at the FINA Junior World Championships.
A favorite to make the Olympic team four years ago as a teenager, she missed a berth on the 2012 team by 0.42 points, then stepped away from competition for two years to recover from shoulder and knee surgeries, watching the competition in London from a hospital bed.
Since then she has picked up three medals in national competition, including golds at nationals and winter nationals in 2015. She is taking a year off from her studies in communications at Stanford.
Johnston, 26, and Kelci Bryant won the silver medal in synchronized 3-meter at the London 2012 Olympic Games, but because the U.S. did not qualify in that event for Rio, her only chance to return to the Games as as an individual.
Champion of the 2009 spring nationals, she has recorded podium finishes at the last two winter nationals, winning bronze in 2014 and silver in 2015. Her most recent international competition produced her first podium finish, a silver, at the 2016 FINA grand prix event in Puerto Rico.
She has balanced training for Rio with the demands of medical school at Duke University, where she completed her studies earlier this month.
The U.S. has a long history of success in women's individual 3-meter springboard, having swept the podium the first six times it was included in the Olympic program. From 1920 through 1988, the only Olympic Games where a U.S. diver did not medal was the U.S.-boycotted Moscow 1980 Olympic Games, when the United States did not send a team to compete.
However, no American has brought home a 3-meter medal since Kelly McCormick won bronze at the Seoul 1988 Olympic Games.