UA 2008 alum wins silver medal in synchronized diving, reflects on her journey to success

by Emma Klebe, ’13
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Q: How did the UAHS diving program prepare you for Duke University diving and ultimately the Olympics?

Johnston: High school diving taught me how to perform under high pressure situations. Competing at the state meet my freshman year in front of a big crowd made me realize how much I love the thrill of performing.

Q: What advice would you give to all the hopeful athletes here at the high school?

Johnston: My advice is to set realistic goals at the beginning of your season and think through the process of reaching those goals. I always make a notecard with my goals for training, competition and school and keep it in my locker as a daily remainder.

Q: How does college diving and Olympic diving compare to the diving you did at UA?

Johnston: High school diving was a stepping stone on my way to the Olympics. It prepared me for the ups and downs of competitions and helped me build confidence to compete on a national and international level.

Q: What was your first reaction after winning the silver medal?

Johnston: My first reaction after winning silver was overwhelming joy. It validated all the sacrifices and hours of training I went through to reach this point. Also, I felt a huge sense of national pride watching the American flag rise.

Q: What are some of your favorite moments from the Olympic games so far?

Johnston: Apart from the competition, my favorite moment of the Olympics was walking into the stadium for the Opening Ceremony. Standing in the tunnel, surrounded by Americans chanting “U-S-A” was a huge adrenaline rush.

Q: How has your life changed since going to the Olympics and winning the silver medal?

Johnston: I’ve had opportunities to meet a lot of people I otherwise would not have the chance to meet. Going through the NBC studio during my press conference, I ran into Bob Costas, Bela Karolyi, Bruce Jenner, and so many other huge names. I think the media attention is great for the sport of diving, especially after a 12-year medal drought.

Q: How has it been meeting so many other top athletes?

Johnston: Meeting other athletes is such a cool part of the games. Walking through the dining hall, you’ll see a seven-foot basketball player in line next to a tiny gymnast. It’s a cultural experience to be surrounded by athletes from the whole world.

Q: Do you plan on coming back to UA to visit any time soon?

Johnston: I rarely get to go home because of training, but I hope to make it home for an Ohio State football game this fall, and I am going to try my best to be at my five-year reunion next July 4.

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Abby Johnston and her diving partner Kelci Bryant compete in the 3-meter synchronized dive.

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Abby Johnston and her diving partner Kelci Bryant compete in the 3-meter synchronized dive.

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The two wave and smile while standing on the podium with their silver medals.