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Diving into the future: DFW teen’s unexpected Olympic journey

The Olympic rings float on a barge ahead of the 2020 Summer Olympics, Monday, July 19, 2021, in...
The Olympic rings float on a barge ahead of the 2020 Summer Olympics, Monday, July 19, 2021, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)(Charlie Riedel | AP)
Published: Aug. 1, 2021 at 5:18 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - She had her sights set on the Paris 2024 Olympics, followed by a trip to Los Angeles in 2028. Come Sunday at the Tokyo Aquatics Center, 18-year-old Hailey Hernandez of Southlake, Texas learned she was the ninth-best springboard diver in the world, competing at the 2020 Olympic Games.

In the previous day’s semifinals, Hernandez scored a 58.50 on the “forward somersault one twist,” which was enough for her to claim the tenth of twelve available spots in the final to the Women’s 3 Meter Springboard event. NBC’s announcer Cynthia Potter, who won springboard bronze in 1976, said Hailey’s degree of difficulty was among the lowest in the field, which meant her execution had to nearly be flawless in order to advance.

Hernandez even stood in seventh position after her third dive, which scored a 58.80 in the “back 2 ½ somersault”. Her American teammate, Krysta Palmer (Gardenville, Nev.) made history as she earned a bronze medal, becoming the first woman to do so individually since Laura Wilkinson won gold on the 10 meter platform in 2000. Following Hailey’s final attempt, the two hugged. Palmer could be heard on TV saying “I’m so proud of you!”.

Earlier this year, Hernandez graduated from Southlake Carroll High School- a school that is best known for its success on the football field, which has won eight state titles since 1988. However, some notable divers have passed through the halls as well. At the 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, Argentina, her classmate Bridget O’Neil, took bronze in the same discipline. This fall, Hailey plans to join her- competing for the University of Texas.

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