As a follow-up from my last post about Olympic comebacks I could interview Laura Wilkinson for my blog! It was really great to talk to her and she was so nice. I hope she makes it to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and the Blogs Olympics can follow her along the way!
If you are a fan of Laura after reading this interview, you can book Laura to speak at your events! She loves to talk and motivate people by sharing her journey. click on here for more information.
To catch up with you, if you did not read my last post, here is her comeback video:
Blogs-OL: How do you feel about returning to diving?
Laura Wilkinson: It is fun. It’s new and new again, but there’s some wisdom and experience there. You know, it’s a bit of a nice mix.
Blogs-OL: Is it different now that you competed in the past? Does it feel different?
Laura Wilkinson: I’m still just getting started again. I have not been to many meetings or been so much in that environment. It has primarily just been training and getting my dives back up. So there are a lot of similarities, but it’s a different environment than I grew up training in, and you know, it’s not the same pool. It’s a different situation, so there are differences there. I do not really know what the competitor is going. I just have not done enough yet.
Blogs-OL: It makes sense. When is your first big meeting?
Laura Wilkinson: We have citizens in August.
Blogs-OL: Do you feel ready?
Laura Wilkinson: Yes and no. I’m ready to mix it up with people. We know right up to our Zone meeting in Moultrie [Georgia] last weekend and there were only 3 people and 5 had to qualify. There was no pressure. There was no meeting atmosphere. It was like, “oh, we all go [to qualify]. “So I am ready to get into the environment where you know you are nervous, there is pressure, it matters. I’m excited to step back into it.
Blogs-OL: Back to when you competed at the Sydney Olympics, how
did it feel like standing on the platform before you dove? Did you focus on the crowd or just on the dive?
Laura Wilkinson: Someone gave me really good advice before I went to the Olympics. It was a Canadian Olympian and she had competed in her home country at the Olympics in Montreal. She told me, “You know, when you come to the Olympics, enjoy the atmosphere. Enjoy the Olympic experience, but when you go diving and it’s your time to compete, let it all go. In fact, it’s just another dive encounter against people you’ve competed against before you dive, as you’ve done a hundred times. There is nothing new there. All the new stuff is just that extra. It’s the people who’s watching, it’s the TV, it’s the camera, it’s all just fluff. But in reality, it’s still just another meeting. “I think knowing it really helped keep me grounded. I did, I soaked up the Olympics. I loved the opening ceremonies. I loved all the Olympics. But since it was my time to dive, I could just get into the meeting.
Blogs-OL: Did you get to go to the opening ceremonies?
Laura Wilkinson: I did. I did that at all my three Olympics I came to. It was really cool.
Blogs-OL: How did you compete at the Olympics in Sydney with a broken foot? Just thinking about it makes me cringe.
Laura Wilkinson: Well, I had a stress fracture in my left foot, and then I completely broke three bones in my right foot, the three middle metatarsals. And the way it broke, part of one of the bones slipped under my foot, and it calcified to the two bones next to what they call a bone bridge. So without performing surgery to break it down again and fix it, we threw it as it was to give me the best shot at trying to go to the Olympics. So it was like walking on a sharp rock. It was really painful. I had to walk in a shoe, like a tennis shoe at all times. I even had to wear a shoe up to 10 feet and then throw it down. So there was a lot of pain there, especially on certain dives where you put all the emphasis on your football. You know it’s right where it’s broken and then there was fear of hitting it again. So that was a lot. It was a lot of pain, [and] it was a lot of mental stress you know. But I think it actually became a blessing because it helped me focus on the things I needed to focus on.
Blogs-OL: How did it feel when you won gold?
Laura Wilkinson: I did not really know. I knew I was doing well. I did not know I was in charge of the last few dives. I just knew I was a little on the hunt and I had done some reason. So after I made my last dive and there were 4 more people still going to go and I could not see the scoreboard, I just looked at my coach because he could see the scoreboard. After each person walked, he would turn around and he would do that, kind of throwing his arms up and going “yes!” And finally, after the last girl left, he came running over and picked me up, and I was like “oh, we must have medaled.” But I had no idea we were winning until he just turned me around and said, “We did. We did it. “And it just dawned on me at that point. Like oh my goodness, we won. So it was a really nice moment that he got to tell me. I had no idea, so it was really cool.
Blogs-OL: How does it feel to be the last female American diver to medal on the 10 meter platform? Do you think you could repeat winning gold in Tokyo?
Laura Wilkinson: It’s really nice. It seems that I am mentioned a lot for it, but you know that at the same time I want the United States to do well. It’s hard to see some of our people get close and just not quite get there. It’s both. It’s exciting to leave that legacy, but at the same time I want people to follow in my footsteps. I want our country to step up and fill this void. And yes, I do not know. I’m just focused on where I am right now. As if I have the bigger goals, but right now I’m just focusing on where I am and getting to the next step.
Blogs-OL: I understand that. Do you have any advice for divers who have just started their careers?
Laura Wilkinson: Not to give up because it’s so easy to get frustrated. Diving can be a very frustrating sport. It looks a lot like golf. You do this for half a second and then you get frustrated and you have all this time to wait. Then try it again. It can be really aggravating. I think just stick to it and just keep going and not give up when it gets frustrating, because that’s often when you’re close to finding out. Just continue.
Blogs-OL: That’s good advice. I remember when I dived it could be so frustrating!
Laura Wilkinson: Yes it is. It makes you crazy. That’s why my coach is bald.
Blogs-OL: Is it hard to train while having a family? Is it much harder with children?
Laura Wilkinson: It’s just another dynamic. You know, I’m not doing the same kind of schedule I did before. I’m not doing 8 hours a day right now. It’s usually about half of it, and once I get home I’m a mom the rest of the time. But it’s just different. It has been a change for them as I have been more out of the house this year and one of my daughters has struggled a bit with it. I mean, it’s like mom going back to work. It’s just a different dynamic, so we’re all sorts of adapting to it. The really cool part is when my kids send me good luck. They tell me they want me to win because they want confetti to fall from the sky, you know. I came home and said I came in second in the Zone meeting, and my daughter said, “If you came in second, no one should have been first.” It’s cool to see them try to understand this and get all excited for me. It’s pretty cool to watch. And once my husband was filming and I heard my son say, “This is my mother!” It’s a little cool when they’ve proud of you, and it’s definitely a different dynamic, but it’s great.
Blogs-OL: It sounds fantastic! Do you think any of your kids are starting to dive?
Laura Wilkinson: I do not know. One of them says she will, but she also told me after the Olympics last year that she is going to the Olympics in diving, gymnastics, track, pole vault and something else. She had like 5 or 6 different events she had to hold at the Olympics. They are still young. We’ll see what they choose to do.
Blogs-OL: Thank you! I hope to see you compete at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics! Good luck!
Laura Wilkinson: Thanks!