Reporting Steve Grzanich
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LONDON (WBBM) – Kelci Bryant has a new partner and new outlook as she prepares to compete at her second Olympics. But the stakes couldn’t be higher for the 23-year old from downstate Chatham and her partner, Abby Johnston, when they dive Sunday in the Women’s Synchronized 3-meter Springboard at the London Games.
The U.S. hasn’t won a medal in women’s diving since 2000. Bryant and Johnston are scheduled to dive at 9 a.m. Central Time. They will be up against seven teams from Canada, Italy, Great Britain, Australia, Ukraine, China and Malaysia.
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“We have a job to do and you just have to keep everything in perspective and realize we have competed with these teams,” said Bryant. “We can celebrate when we’re done and really embrace the atmosphere, but for right now, let’s do what we have to do.”
Bryant and Johnston just barely made this Olympic team, edging out Kassidy Cook and Riverwoods-native Christina Loukas by a score of 956.40 to 955.98. In 2008, at the Beijing Olympics, Bryant and her partner Ariel Rittenhouse finished fourth in the Women’s Synchronized 3-meter Springboard, one spot shy of earning a medal.
Bryant says performing under pressure has strengthened the pair and given them new confidence.
“It’s made us more prepared,” she said. The team is also more mature, and she added that the defeat in Beijing is fueling her drive to win a medal in London. She’s not going to squander her second chance.
“I think it makes it extra rewarding knowing that I am going to get a second shot because a lot of people don’t. I am lucky to have the support system to be able to go back and do it again.”
The Chinese are the clear gold medal favorites in diving. That leaves a race for silver and bronze and, according to observers Bryant and Johnston have the best chance of medaling of any of the U-S women in London.
About competing in her second Summer Games, Bryant said. “Taking part in the Olympics means I get to represent my country in a way that not a lot of people will get to do, but that millions of people dream of doing. To me, it’s an honor to be born with this talent and have the family support that I need.”
Bryant is a nine-time national champion, two-time NCAA champion and four-time NCAA All-American diver. She currently lives in Minneapolis. All four of her siblings were college athletes.