Advertisement

An Olympic diving medalist's comeback followed by her partner

An Olympic diving medalist's comeback followed by her partner

Krysta Palmer, the lone U.S. diver to win an individual medal at the Tokyo Olympics, continued a steady comeback by qualifying for February's world championships in synchronized springboard.

Palmer and Tokyo Olympic partner Alison Gibson won winter nationals by 14.4 points over Sarah Bacon and Kassidy Cook, who placed fourth at this past June's worlds.

Palmer and Gibson competed together for the first time since they placed eighth in synchro at the Tokyo Games. Palmer later won individual springboard bronze in Tokyo, becoming the first U.S. female diver to win an individual Olympic medal since 2000.

Palmer, 31, then missed most of 2022 after hip surgery and made June's world team strictly in mixed-gender synchro, which is not on the Olympic program. She can become the second-oldest female U.S. Olympic diver in history come June's trials.

Gibson, 24, made winter nationals her first full-fledged meet since the Olympics. She made "a spontaneous comeback out of retirement" and paired with Palmer again.

“After summer nationals, people were like, 'Hey, you should come back, we’d love to see you out there again,'" Gibson said, according to USA Diving. "At first, I laughed, like that’s hilarious. And then I was like, I don’t know. I started thinking about it and took time in silence by myself and thought maybe this is something I should pursue.

"We got the band back together. I never thought it would happen. I really thought I was done.”

The U.S. still has to qualify a quota spot for the Olympic women's synchro springboard event. To do that, Gibson and Palmer must place in the top four at February's worlds in Doha, excluding the three already qualified nations (China, Great Britain, Italy) and automatically qualified Olympic host France.

The individual 3m springboard and 10m platform winners at winter nationals were all Olympic or world championships veterans: Bacon (springboard) and Delaney Schnell (platform) for the women and Tyler Downs (springboard) and Josh Hedberg (platform) for the men.

Bacon, 27, is the lone American to win an individual medal at worlds in this Olympic cycle, doing so in the 1m springboard, which is not an Olympic event. At winter nationals, she distanced Tokyo Olympian Hailey Hernandez by 67.4 points in the 3m springboard. Both made the team for worlds. Palmer was sixth.

Schnell, the top U.S. platform diver in Tokyo and at June's worlds, won winter nationals by more than 50 points. The other world championships qualifier was Daryn Wright.

Downs, 20, has now made the last four Olympic or world teams in men's springboard dating to Tokyo. He's joined by Grayson Campbell, who finished 1.4 points behind Downs at winter nationals. Campbell, 25, competed at his first national-level meet since leaving the sport following a sixth-place finish at the Tokyo Olympic Trials.

On the platform, the 16-year-old Hedberg won his first individual senior national title. He placed fourth at the Tokyo trials at age 14. Runner-up Brandon Loschiavo, who was 11th at the Olympics, also qualified for worlds.

The other synchro winners who qualified for worlds were Hedberg and Carson Tyler (platform), Schnell and Jessica Parratto (platform, the lone U.S. medalists at June's worlds (bronze)) and Quinn Henninger and Andrew Capobianco (springboard).

Hedberg and Tyler must finish in the top four at worlds, excluding already qualified nations, to earn the U.S. an Olympic quota spot in the men's synchro platform. Quotas in the other synchro events were already secured.

The U.S. also hopes to qualify the remaining individual spots for the Olympics — two in men's platform and one in women's platform. At least 12 Olympic quota spots are available in each individual event at worlds, which is the final chance for nations to earn spots.