Sarah Bacon is first U.S. female diver to earn world medal in 14 years

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Sarah Bacon became the first U.S. female diver to earn an individual Olympic or world championships medal since 2005, taking silver on Saturday at worlds in the 1m springboard, which is not an Olympic event.

Chen Yiwen won Saturday with 285.45 points as China swept the first two events at worlds (including the mixed synchro platform), which includes 13 total events and runs through next weekend.

Bacon, the 22-year-old NCAA champion from Minnesota, tallied 262 points on the first day of finals in Gwangju, South Korea, to become the first U.S. woman on an Olympic or world podium since Laura Wilkinson won the 2005 world title on the platform.

The last U.S. woman to make a springboard podium was Mary Ellen Clark, who took bronze at the 1996 Olympics. The last to do it at worlds was Wendy Lucero, in the 1m in 1991.

Bacon endured two shoulder surgeries, a concussion, stress fractures in her back and mental struggles to get here. Bacon said she wanted to quit before enrolling at Minnesota, where former U.S. national team coach Wenbo Chen is at the helm.

“I wanted nothing to do with it. I came here not even wanting to dive,” she said, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “But my parents said, ‘You should go dive with [Chen]. See if that sparks your interest again.’ And he completely changed the way I view it.”

Bacon, a rising senior, is at her first senior worlds. She also qualified as the second U.S. woman in the 3m springboard behind Brooke Schultz. That is an Olympic event and will take place later next week.

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