Kaleigh Gilchrist and Sami Hill celebrate winning the women's water polo final against Italy at the Olympic Games Rio 2016 on Aug. 19, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro.
I am not quite sure I would be able to call myself a two-time Olympian without your love, support and guidance. You’ve always been by my side on this crazy two-year journey that you dubbed “The Mamba Mission,” and we get to continue that mission to the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
July 27, 2019 will be a day I’ll never forget. A day where nearly every emotion was felt from the highs of winning a world championship to the lows of being rushed to the hospital for surgery in a foreign country. There were a few scary moments after the balcony collapsed at that night club where I didn’t know if I was going to make it. As time passed and help came quick, those moments became a little less scary and I began to question smaller realities, like if I will ever be able to walk again.
You were there with me going into surgery and the first person I remember when I woke up. You gave me some of the greatest news I’ve ever received: “Surgery went well and you were millimeters away from your nerve.” It took me awhile to truly comprehend what that meant. I was one of the lucky ones that evening. I missed my nerve that allows my foot to function by millimeters, which gave me hope that I could still play sports again.
The people of Chosun University hospital were some of the nicest, but it didn’t make the language barrier much easier. To have all this happen in a foreign country away from my family was hard, yet you and Dr. Seth made sure I felt as comfortable and supported as I could. We even managed to share some jokes and laughs amongst the fear and chaos; something that would be a staple on the Mamba Mission.
Once we finally got the okay to make the trek home, you took care of the logistics and allowed me to focus on what I could control. I slept the entire flight while you were up making sure everything was going as planned. One of a million examples of your selflessness. Landing in the US and being reunited with loved ones will forever be one of my happiest moments.