Alison Gibson and Krysta Palmer celebrate qualifying for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 in the synchronized 3-meter springboard event at U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Diving on June 10, 2021, in Indianapolis, Indiana.
INDIANAPOLIS – Alison Gibson and Krysta Palmer tried to do everything in unison while diving in the synchronized 3-meter springboard final.
So, naturally, they were of the same mind after their fifth and last dive Thursday at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Diving.
“I hit the water and I was like, ‘okay I’m pretty sure it was good enough,’” Gibson said. “I just wanted to give Krysta a hug.”
Gibson, who will be 22 next month, and Palmer, who turns 29 on Sunday, became the first Team USA divers to qualify for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. Both are first-time Olympians.
“We came into this, and we’re doing it together,” Palmer said, “and it was so special to be able to share that moment with her. That was just pure excitement.”
They scored 899.82 points to defeat Sarah Bacon and Kassidy Cook, who garnered 871.50 points, in what was essentially a two-team duel among the seven-team field.
Scores at the Trials are cumulative and Gibson and Palmer carried a 21.45-point lead into the final after five dives in the preliminaries and the same five-dive list in the semifinals.
“We just tried to continue to fight until the very end,” Palmer said.
Bacon and Cook, who has been dealing with a shoulder injury, cut the margin to 14.25 points after scoring 51.60 points on their second dive, a reverse dive pike. That was the same dive on which they balked in the preliminaries, earning only 32.40 points.
However, Gibson and Palmer, who stayed loose by joking, singing and dancing, calmly built their cushion back up to 29.82 points by the final dive.
“Obviously, we’re competing against other teams,” Gibson said, “but it’s really us trying to put on a show for y’all and do the best that we can.”
After Bacon and Cook scored 72.90 points on 5152B, a forward 2 ½ somersaults with a twist, Gibson and Palmer countered with 5154B, a forward 2 ½ somersaults with two twists. It has a higher degree of difficulty, and they scored 71.40 points to seal the win.
Palmer believes 5154B will help them compete against the Chinese and other top diving countries.
“It’s a hard dive for women to do and there’s not very many girls that do this dive, let alone synchronized teams,” she said, “so for us to be bringing this onto an international stage, will be really good for USA Diving.”
Palmer, who leads the individual 3-meter event after the semifinals, is the only diver with 5154B on her list. She convinced Gibson to add it to her repertoire for synchro, although Gibson, who is in third place in the individual event, does not do the dive without her partner beside her. Two athletes will qualify in the individual event Saturday night.
But no matter what happens, they know they are Tokyo-bound. In 2016, Gibson was sixth at the Trials in the individual 3-meter event while Palmer competed on 10-meter platform, placing ninth in the individual event and fourth in synchronized 10-meter.
On Thursday night, they saw where an artist would paint their names on the wall of the Indiana University Natatorium with all of the other Olympians selected here since 1984. They also received Olympic rings in what has become a tradition.
Laura Wilkinson, the 2000 Olympic champion on platform who is in ninth place going into Sunday’s final at age 43, presented her personal Olympic ring to Palmer. Michele Mitchell, a two-time Olympic silver medalist on platform in 1984 and 1988, gave her ring to Gibson.
“Once we get our own rings, we give them back, so it’s really cool just wearing it and seeing my dream on my finger,” Gibson said.
Palmer said it was especially meaningful to receive her ring from Wilkinson, who has been an inspiration and an idol.
“I didn’t start diving until I was 20 years old,” said Palmer, a gymnast and trampolinist before she switched to diving, “but I remember watching the Olympic games where she was competing, and I was just amazed. It’s amazing what she’s doing to come back and just show everybody that anything is possible.”
However, Palmer teased her partner that she was wearing her ring like a wedding ring.
“I know! It doesn’t fit on any of my other fingers,” Gibson said. “I’m married to the Olympics now.”
She added, “Someday if my kids are like, ‘Mom, you’re not cool,’ I can be like, ‘I’m an Olympian though.’”