Not so long ago, the idea of Kelci Bryant and Abby Johnston being a serious synchronized diving tandem was not in either athlete’s mind. Brought together by their high performance instructor for a few dives in 2010, the athletes felt the continuity needed to succeed.
Two years later they’re not only working exclusively together, but they’re also one of the best tandems in the world. Bryant and Johnston set the pace for the divers at the London 2012
Olympic Games by winning the silver medal in the synchronized 3-meter springboard. The duo missed out on gold by 24.30 points, with a score of 321.90 finishing behind China's He Zi and Wu Minxia, who posted a 346.20. Canada's Jennifer Abel and Emilie Heymans took bronze with a score of 316.90.
“It was amazing all our hard work has paid off over the last four years,” Bryant said. “I’ve had Abby by my side and we have worked our butts off, calling each other for a shoulder to cry on when we needed too. I think since Abby and I got the medal it will set a good tone for U.S. diving.”
The synchronized three-meter springboard was the first of eight diving events and it marked the first U.S. medal in diving since 2000, when Laura Wilkinson earned gold on women’s 10m platform. The performance by Bryant and Johnston could be considered the type of breakthrough the sport needs to continue to succeed in America.
Bryant said she couldn’t even look at the scoreboard during their performance because she was too focused on making sure all of their training didn’t go by the wayside. Bryant came in fourth at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing while Johnston made her Olympics debut in London. Bryant remembered that she had put too much pressure on herself as she headed into her final dive in Beijing. She did not want to make the same mistake again.
“It’s a lifelong dream that came true today,” Johnston said. “Kelci and I have been working hard at this for a long time and I think we believed we always had it in us and so it’s just an unbelievable feeling to have it happen today.”
Leading into their final dive with a medal at stake, Bryant said her heart was racing even though she was quick to add she had the utmost confidence in her diving partner. The two entered the event searching for a medal of any color. With China continuing to dominate the field, both were pleased to take second behind Wu who earned her fifth Olympic medal.
Landing in London was an impressive feat in itself for Bryant and Johnston who earned the spot by 42 hundredths of a point through a total of 15 dives at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials in June.
“We wanted a medal but we also knew that we could only control ourselves and focus on what we could do,” Bryant said. “We came in here and our goal was to hit every one of our dives to the best that we could do and we did that. The medal is definitely a good bonus and it’s definitely exciting for the both of us.”