Bridget O'Neil swims toward the surface at the Youth Olympic Games Buenos Aires 2018 on Oct. 12. 2018 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina -- Bridget O’Neil’s bronze medal on the women’s 3-meter springboard at the Youth Olympic Games not only added her name to the history books, but also helped to inspire future generations of divers.
O’Neil has direct ties to both the past and future of the Olympic Movement. Her great-uncle John O’Neil won Olympic gold medals for Team USA in rugby in 1920 and 1924. And when Bridget’s not busy with her own training, she’s helping to coach future divers at her club in Texas.
In the morning’s prelims O’Neil finished fifth to advance in the competition. In the final O’Neil scored 439.60 points to secure her podium position by more than 10 points. O’Neil’s best dive was her third-round reverse two and a half, which earned her a 61.60.
But going eighth of 12 in the diving order meant that O’Neil would have to wait for several more athletes to finish competing to see if her spot on the podium would hold.
“After you’re finished, it’s exciting,” O’Neil said. “There’s no pressure on me, so it was just fun to watch the scores go up and see what others can do.”
With the bronze medal around her neck, O’Neil was excited to carry on the family name her uncle had established in the Olympic movement nearly a century ago.
“It is really cool to have two medalists in the family,” O’Neil said. “I guess it is a tradition I can help to carry on. I have thought about if I could compete in Paris like he did. I’m going to have to keep working hard and trying my best to achieve that.”
John O’Neil’s second Games were held in Paris. Should Bridget O’Neil make the 2024 U.S. Olympic Team, her Games would also occur there – 100 years later.
While the sports of rugby and diving don’t have a lot in common, it’s obvious that the younger O’Neil has many of the same qualities as her great-uncle.
“My family told me that he was really driven, worked hard in his sport, and that’s how he achieved his goal,” O’Neil said
With firm ties to the past, O’Neil also has her eyes to the future. She teaches kids at GC Divers, who are 6-12 years old, the basics of diving, or as she puts it “going headfirst into the pool.”
“It is one of my favorite things I get to do this year,” O’Neil said. “I do it every week and I just love watching them have fun and teaching them something I love to do also.
“It’s funny to think I was once a diver in lessons and now I’m here. So, it could be any of them in my shoes one day.”