5 Things to Know About Olympic Diver Kassidy Cook, Who Overcame Life-Altering Surgery to Make 2016 National Team

Kassidy Cook made the comeback of a lifetime at the U.S. Olympic Trials

Photo: Streeter Lecka/Getty

Team USA diver Kassidy Cook is making the comeback of a lifetime.

After falling less than a half-point short of making the 2012 U.S. team and suffering three life-altering injuries in the last four years, the bubbly Texas native is, finally, Olympics-bound.

The 21-year-old athlete dominated the women’s 3-meter competition at the U.S. Olympic Diving Trials on Sunday and was named to the American team along with diving pal Abby Johnston.

When Cook qualified with a first-place score of 1,003.65 (54.35 ahead of second-place winner Johnston), she immediately ran into the stands to give her friends and family a hug. “I’m at a loss for words!” she said, smiling through happy tears.

As Cook heads into the final few months of pre-Rio training, here are five things you should know about the first-time Olympian making waves in the diving community.

1. She watched the London Olympics from a hospital bed.
At the age of 17, Cook and then-synchro partner Christina Loukas placed second at the 2012 Olympic trials – a mere .42 points behind qualifying duo Abby Johnston and Kelci Bryant. Just as the London Olympics began, Cook tore her labrum and underwent major reconstructive surgery on her shoulder. She was told she might never dive again.

“I actually remember watching the opening ceremonies for the 2012 Olympics from my hospital bed,” she said at the Los Angeles media summit in March. For three years, Cook worked tirelessly so that she could compete in the 2016 diving trials.

2. Cook has a "bionic" shoulder.
The diver tore her shoulder in 2012 and had surgery on the day of the 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony. A year later, her shoulder was still not healed and she underwent surgery again. She was left with eight metal anchors in her arm, which she calls her “bionic shoulder.” A year later, at the age of 19, Cook went in for a third surgery for a torn meniscus on her right knee.

3. Cook is close friends with Olympic veteran diver Abby Johnston.
When the two women were named to the 2016 team headed to Rio this summer, they gave each other a congratulatory hug. Johnston, who was the silver medalist in London, says her bestie “deserves it.” “I know she is going to kick butt in Rio, and I’m going to be right there with her!” Johnston said after Sunday’s trials.

4. She has a very specific pre-meet ritual.
Cook cannot compete without first having her nails painted. “It’s a weird tradition of mine! I always get a mani and pedi before a competition,” she told NBC Olympics. The 21-year-old also takes an ice bath the night before every competition to ensure her legs are relaxed.

5. The letter "K" runs in her family.
Everyone in Cook’s family (minus her mother) has a name that begins with the letter “K.” She has four sisters – Kara, Kylie, Kendall and Kelsey – and a brother, Kevin. “I come from a crazy family!” she told NBC Olympics. The athlete is the youngest of her siblings and says she looks up to them.

To learn more about all Olympic hopefuls, visit teamusa.org. The Rio Olympics begin August 5.

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