This is a story of resilience. Of a comeback. An Olympic-sized comeback. Of defying all odds. Of overcoming obstacles to chase dreams.
This is the story of Laura Wilkinson. An Olympian diver who’s chosen to dive head-first into an incredible endeavor, as she states on her Instagram bio, she’s diving “again after 9-year retirement with 4 kids in tow.”
As The Today Show’s Scott Stump mentioned, as well, “(m)aking her comeback even more impressive is that Wilkinson underwent a serious spinal surgery in 2018 to repair damage to her neck from all the years of hitting the water at high speeds on her dives. The surgery was the difference between Wilkinson making a run at Tokyo or hanging it up for good. She decided to take the chance with the procedure even though doctors told her it was possible she could never dive again.”
But instead of never diving again, Wilkinson “qualified for (the) diving finals at the U.S. Olympic trials in her bid to earn a spot on Team USA for next month’s Tokyo Olympics” per The Today Show.
Even defying what the doctors told her, this is a story of a strong faith, a strong will, a strong desire to go for what others thought wasn’t possible. Because Wilkinson, in fact, knows it is possible.
This is her story. And this is why she’s doing what she’s doing:
“People keep asking me why I’m doing this,” Wilkinson said in an Instagram post. “It’s actually pretty simple. God said ‘Come.’ so I jumped out of the boat (Matt. 14:28-31). Yes, it can be scary. Yes, it can be painful. Yes, it will be hard. But trusting God is the greatest adventure you can have in life! When there was no path forward, He opened doors that weren’t there before. When I wanted to give up, He filled me with renewed passion.”
Wilkinson then went on to say that “(t)he past five years have been the absolute craziest of (her) life.” She was called to this.
Olympic Diver Talks About Returning to the Board As a Mom of 4
“When you feel called to do something and you’re passionate about it, you just want to be all in,” Wilkinson said on The Today Show per today.com. “It’s the drive, it’s the love, and I love that my kids get to watch me do this, not just by telling them how to live their lives. But they’re seeing me, the blood, sweat and tears that it takes to actually get there.”
And her story this year of overcoming challenges seems to be a theme for her career.
Team USA’s Peggy Shinn noted recapped last year her incredible win at the 2000 Olympics: “she moved from eighth place to first and won the first Olympic gold medal for U.S. women in platform diving since 1964 – on a broken foot.” Not only did she have that broken foot, she also faced tremendous adversity and hurt after Shinn reports she lost a friend “three years earlier”.
You can read the full article detailing that Olympic win and Wilkinson overcoming adversity here.
And her family has been right alongside her in this journey. The Today Show notes that “(h)er husband, Eriek Hulseman, four children, and her mother (were) cheering her on in person…at the Indiana University Natatorium on the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis campus.”
Raleigh, North Carolina ABC 11’s Brhe Berry in 2019 noted that “Wilkinson and…Hulseman became a family of six. First came Arella, then their adopted daughter Zoe, then Zadok, and another adoption for their fourth child, Dakaia.”
You can see more of their adoption journey on her Instagram. You can also hear more about her adoption journey on ‘The Adoptive Mom’ podcast here. Wilkinson is also a host of the Pursuit of Gold podcast.
Team USA notes her already incredible accomplishments in the sport:
- 2005 World Championship platform gold medalist
- 2004 World Cup platform gold medalist
- 2000 Olympic platform gold medalist
- 1998 Goodwill Games platform gold medalist
- 1995 World Cup bronze medalist in platform synchro
- 2000, 2004 and 2005 USA Diving Athlete of the Year
Then, in 2021, this gold medalist dove headfirst into this challenge.
That’s a gold medal feat within itself. And this is just another chapter in her and her family’s incredible story.
Charlie Lapastora is a sports/news multimedia journalist who’s reported, written, produced, anchored, shot video/edited on different NBC, ABC, and FOX shows in multiple TV markets, along with digital & new media companies. Charlie has traveled the country telling national sports, news, feature, and original stories on a cable news network, airing on top 10 TV markets, satellite radio, and digital platforms. He is passionate about his faith, family—being a husband to whom he calls the G.O.A.T. of women—about reppin’ his home state of Michigan and Detroit teams (yes, including the Lions), good coffee, and loves how sports brings people together. He’s traveled the world leading and coaching sports camps and has also worked at the Detroit Pistons and LA Clippers’ NBA teams.
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