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Laura Wilkinson announces diving comeback

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The 2000 Olympic diving champion Laura Wilkinson was elected to the International Swimming Hall of Fame on Thursday.

She announced a comeback on Thursday, too.

Wilkinson, a 39-year-old mother of three, plans to compete on the platform for the first time since 2008 at a small meet near her Texas home later this month.

She’s not committing to any national-level meets yet, but if she feels up to it, can see herself diving through this Olympic cycle. And possibly at the 2020 Tokyo Games, should she be able to qualify.

“As long as my body holds up, I’d love to go for [the Olympics] again,” Wilkinson said in a phone interview Thursday. “It feels good going back up there [atop the platform] again. Like home.”

It all started in fall 2015, when Wilkinson saw her old coach, Kenny Armstrong, while taking her kids to a local pool. Armstrong suggested Wilkinson return, when her kids were in school, and join his springboard divers for training once a week.

“It started coming back really quickly,” she said. “It kind of got me thinking.”

Wilkinson worked for NBC at the Rio Olympics and in the months since started driving 90 minutes each way once or twice a week to the University of Houston to train platform. Her local pool only has springboards.

To Wilkinson’s surprise, her body handled the impact of platform dives pretty well. By Thursday, she announced her comeback on social media via a YouTube video titled, #DreamChaser.

“I don’t know that it ever really leaves you,” said Wilkinson, who is being coached by Armstrong again. “When you love something, it’s always a part of you.”

Wilkinson pulled off one of the great stories of the Sydney 2000 Olympics, jumping from eighth place over five final-round dives to become the first U.S. woman in 36 years to win platform gold.

She prevailed six months after breaking three middle bones in her right foot, banging it on a piece of plywood used for training.

The U.S. would go 12 years before winning another Olympic diving title (David Boudia, men’s platform), but Wilkinson remains the most recent female U.S. Olympic diving champion.

Wilkinson competed in the 2004 and 2008 Olympics and won the 2005 World title in between before retiring. She then gave birth to daughter Arella and son Zadok and, with her husband, adopted another baby, Zoe, from China.

“When I retired in 2008, I felt old enough, 30, and I’d been around forever,” Wilkinson said. “My body was beat up. I wanted to have a family.”

She made a brief domestic comeback in 2010 and 2011, on springboard, and qualified for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials but decided not to compete.

“It’s like it’s new again, but it’s not,” Wilkinson said of this comeback. “It’s comfortable.”

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MORE: David Boudia to decide whether to retire

David Boudia takes international season off, to decide whether to retire

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David Boudia is taking an indefinite (and perhaps permanent) break from diving to pursue another career — real estate.

The four-time Olympic medalist won’t compete internationally this season and plans to announce in the late summer or fall whether he will return to the sport for a fourth Olympic run or retire.

“It’s a hard decision,” Boudia said, according to NBC’s affiliate in Indianapolis. “Sometimes I wake up in the morning, and I’m, like, ‘I do have more in the tank,’ and I get that itch, but I’ve not once since Rio looked and been, like, ‘Man, I miss training. I miss going to this competition.’

“I see posts of all my teammates going back to training, and there’s not, like, this burning desire in me to get back up on a three-story building and fling myself off and hurt the next day because you’ve trained really hard.”

Boudia will miss the world championships in July for the first time in his senior career, which has dated to 2005, when he was 16 years old. He might compete in the national championships in August.

Boudia, 27, earned individual platform gold and bronze at the last two Olympics and synchro bronze and silver in London and Rio, respectively. Only Greg Louganis owns more Olympic diving medals among Americans.

Boudia recently added a real-estate license and is now an agent for Keller Williams in Lafayette, Ind. He and wife Sonnie are expecting a second child.

If he returns to diving, Boudia said he may stick to one event to limit his training load, possibly springboard, according to the NBC affiliate in Indianapolis.

Boudia dabbled in springboard in the last Olympic cycle and even went 11 months between individual platform competitions.

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MORE: Chinese diving legends retire after Rio

Chinese diving legend emotionally retires

Wu Minxia
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Wu Minxia, one of two divers to win five Olympic gold medals, announced her retirement Thursday, reportedly saying her physical condition would not allow her to compete.

Wu, 31, made the emotional announcement on Chinese TV (video here).

“I am really sorry, but my physical condition does not allow me to continue training,” Wu said on TV, according to Agence France-Presse and Reuters. “I really feared the coming of today.”

Wu hinted at retirement in a Weibo post Wednesday.

“Now, though reluctantly, it’s time to leave,” was posted, according to Reuters. “The story of Chinese diving didn’t start with me, and it won’t end with me.”

Wu contemplated retirement after the 2012 London Olympics and has had many injuries during her decorated career, most recently a reported leg injury in May. So many that she was nicknamed “The Fragile Girl.”

Wu is the only diver to win gold medals at four Olympics and, with countrywoman Chen Ruolin, one of the only two with five gold medals total.

Chen announced her retirement at age 23 in October due to injuries.

Wu made her Olympic debut at Athens 2004 at age 18, winning the first of her four straight Olympic synchronized springboard titles. The first two were with Guo Jingjing. The last two were with He Zi and Shi Tingmao.

Wu also owns a full set of individual springboard medals (silver in 2004, bronze in 2008 and gold in 2012).

Only one diver owns more Olympic medals — Russian Dmitry Sautin — who won eight from 1992 through 2008.

MORE: Barrier-breaking U.S. diver dies at age 96