43-year-old mother of 4 just qualified for the U.S. Olympic diving qualifying finals

Laura Wilkinson was first woman to have won three major diving world titles, including the Olympic gold medal in the 2000 Olympic Games. She was 22 then. Now she's 43, a mother of four, and 13 years post-retirement—and she just qualified for this weekend's women's platform finals in the U.S. Olympic trials.

"I never thought I would get to come back and dive again after I retired 13 years ago," she told NBC Sports. "So this is really a gift, every dive is a gift. I love doing it and this is really special."

When Wilkinson took home the gold from the Sydney Olympics, she was the first American woman to win an Olympic gold medal in platform diving in 36 years. No U.S. woman has medaled in the Olympic sport since then. Against all odds, Wilkinson is looking for another medal shot in what will be her fourth Olympic games, if she makes the team.


Wilkinson explained on TODAY, "When you feel called to do something and you're passionate about it, you just want to be all in. It's the drive, it's the love, and I love that my kids get to watch me do this, not just by telling them how to live their lives. But they're seeing me, the blood, sweat and tears that it takes to actually get there."

Wilkinson underwent surgery on her spine in 2018, a procedure that has enabled her to return to the sport that she loves.

"I'm kind of just surprised I'm doing it, honestly," Wilkinson told TODAY. "When I retired at 30 I was old back then, so this whole journey has just been a crazy, fun road."

At 43, Wilkinson is not ancient by any means, but competitive physical sports are a young person's game. Even athletes in their 30s are considered past their prime, so even qualifying for Olympic trial finals is an impressive feat.

"It's never going to be an easy road," Wilkinson said, "but that's what makes the journey worth it. When you get to the other side, whether you achieve all your goals and your dreams or you don't, going through all of that, it refines you as a person, it's walking through that fire, and you become better in that process."

Dara Torres made Olympic history in 2008, winning three silver medals in swimming at age 41. The oldest Olympic gold medalist ever was Sweden's Oscar Swahn, who took home the gold medal in shooting at age 64, and still competed in the Olympics at age 72.

While aging inarguably makes physical competition harder, athletes like Wilkinson prove that you don't have to stop competing just because you reach a certain date on a calendar. Congrats and kudos to her for chasing her Olympic dreams for the fourth time, and for showing the world what's possible with dedication, perseverance, and support.

Watch her interview with Houston's KCRP 2 the day before she qualified for the finals, which take place on Sunday evening.

Diver Laura Wilkinson ready to go for gold www.youtube.com

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Macy's and Girls Inc. believe that all girls deserve to be safe, supported, and valued. However, racial disparities continue to exist for young people when it comes to education levels, employment, and opportunities for growth. Add to that the gender divide, and it's clear to see why it's important for girls of color to have access to mentors who can equip them with the tools needed to navigate gender, economic, and social barriers.

Anissa Rivera is one of those mentors. Rivera is a recent Program Manager at the Long Island affiliate of Girls Inc., a nonprofit focusing on the holistic development of girls ages 5-18. The goal of the organization is to provide a safe space for girls to develop long-lasting mentoring relationships and build the skills, knowledge, and attitudes to thrive now and as adults.

Rivera spent years of her career working within the themes of self and community empowerment with young people — encouraging them to tap into their full potential. Her passion for youth development and female empowerment eventually led her to Girls Inc., where she served as an agent of positive change helping to inspire all girls to be strong, smart, and bold.

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Inspiring young women from all backgrounds is why Macy's has continued to partner with Girls Inc. for the second year in a row. The partnership will support mentoring programming that offers girls career readiness, college preparation, financial literacy, and more. Last year, Macy's raised over $1.3M for Girls Inc. in support of this program along with their Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) programming for more than 26,000 girls. Studies show that girls who participated are more likely than their peers to enjoy math and science, score higher on standardized math tests, and be more equipped for college and campus life.

Thanks to mentors like Rivera, girls across the country have the tools they need to excel in school and the confidence to change the world. With your help, we can give even more girls the opportunity to rise up. Throughout September 2021, customers can round up their in-store purchases or donate online to support Girls Inc. at Macys.com/MacysGives.

Who runs the world? Girls!

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In the Pacific Northwest, orca sightings are a fairly common occurrence. Still, tourists and locals alike marvel when a pod of "sea pandas" swim by, whipping out their phones to capture some of nature's most beautiful and intelligent creatures in their natural habitat.

While orcas aren't a threat to humans, there's a reason they're called "killer whales." To their prey, which includes just about everything that swims except humans, they are terrifying apex predators who hunt in packs and will even coordinate to attack whales several times their own size.

So if you're a human alone on a little platform boat, and a sea lion that a group of orcas was eyeing for lunch jumps onto your boat, you might feel a little wary. Especially when those orcas don't just swim on by, but surround you head-on.

Watch exactly that scenario play out (language warning, if you've got wee ones you don't want f-bombed):

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