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Alison Gibson, Krysta Palmer are first divers to qualify for U.S. Olympic team

Alison Gibson and Krysta Palmer win the women’s synchronized springboard at the U.S. Olympic Trials, becoming the first divers to qualify for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

Alison Gibson and Krysta Palmer are the first divers to qualify for the U.S. Olympic team.

Gibson, 21, and Palmer, 28, won the women’s synchronized springboard at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Indianapolis on Thursday night, the first of four consecutive days of finals that determine the full team for Tokyo.

Gibson and Palmer prevailed by 28.32 points over Kassidy Cook, a Rio Olympian, and Sarah Bacon, the U.S.’ top individual springboard diver since 2019, totaling scores from preliminary, semifinal and final rounds this week.

Gibson, a 2017 NCAA champion at Texas, and Palmer, a former gymnast and trampolinist who began diving at age 20, will make their Olympic debuts after finishing 10th together at the 2019 World Championships.

After winning, Palmer held a piece of Olympic rings jewelry given to her by Laura Wilkinson, the last U.S. woman to earn Olympic diving gold in 2000. Wilkinson, 43, is competing at Trials this week after coming out of a six-year retirement.

“There’s something super special about saying you’re an Olympian and being able to say that you’re one of the best athletes in the entire world,” Gibson said. “Some day if my [future] kids are like, ‘Mom, you’re not cool,’ I can be like, ‘I’m an Olympian, though.’”

The Olympic Trials continue Friday with synchro finals in men’s springboard and women’s platform.

DIVING TRIALS: Full Results | TV Schedule

Cook and Bacon, who teamed after Cook unretired in late 2019, were set back this year by an injury to Cook’s right shoulder. Cook, 13th in Rio in the individual springboard, withdrew before the individual springboard at Trials due to the injury, putting all her eggs in the synchro basket.

She had the right partner.

Bacon, a 24-year-old Indy native, earned world championships silver on the 1m springboard (not an Olympic event) in 2019. She followed that with another silver on the 3m Olympic height at the FINA World Cup in Tokyo last month, finishing between the same two Chinese divers as at worlds.

Now Bacon’s last shot at the Tokyo Games is in the individual springboard. But she is in sixth place after 10 of 15 dives going into Saturday’s final round. Bacon is 25.9 points out of second place in the race for two Olympic spots, a margin that can be erased in one dive (although it would be a big swing for one dive).

Palmer leads by 61.25 points, with Gibson in third place. Either can become the first American woman to compete in both individual and synchro springboard at one Olympics.

Palmer competed on the platform at the 2016 Olympic Trials, placing ninth individually. Gibson was sixth on the springboard at the 2016 Trials.

LIST: U.S. athletes qualified for Tokyo Olympics across all sports

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