For diver Kassidy Cook, the 2016 Olympic Games are all about redemption. It seems odd, given that the Rio Olympics will be the first for Cook, but the 21-year-old Texas native simply wants to prove herself — especially after all the adversity she’s faced throughout the past four years.
Learn more about Kassidy Cook and the difficult road she took to the Olympics with the five fast facts below.
1. Cook barely missed out on the 2012 Olympic Team.
At the 2012 Olympic trials, Kassidy Cook missed qualifying for the 2012 Olympic team by 0.42 points. That’s less than half a point! Then then-17-year-old was devastated, and soon after, Cook dealt with a torn labrum — the first in a series of injuries that would require surgery. The first injury was difficult, Kassidy told NBC Olympics, but she wanted to get back to training quickly so that she could redeem herself after the 2012 disappointment.
“The doctors told my parents – but not me – I might not ever get the full range of motion that is necessary for diving. I did physical therapy that year, working hard as ever because I wanted to get back to where I was and prove myself after the heartbreak that I endured that summer.”
— Cosmopolitan (@Cosmopolitan) August 2, 2016
2. Cook sustained not one, but three major injuries.
She spent a lot of time in physical therapy to nurse her torn labrum back to health, but in April of 2013, Cook’s shoulder began to dislocate. After a few MRIs, Cook was told that she would need surgery on her shoulder. In 2014, Kassidy underwent a third surgery — this time, on her knee — and her confidence began to slip, she told NBC Olympics.
“I was not confident in my shoulder or my body as a whole and suffered mental and physical challenges.…I was slowly starting to give up on my Olympic dreams, as they seemed unrealistic due to my injuries. I was not myself, mentally or physically. I was lost and depressed. It broke my heart.”
3. Cook credits her family and her coach with helping her recover her Olympic dream.
Kassidy was a student-athlete at Stanford University when she began to struggle with her injuries. Instead of forcing herself to continue at Stanford, Cook decided to take a year off and focus on diving so that she could better prepare for the 2016 summer Olympic Games, she told NBC Olympics.
“When I was about to give up completely, debating quitting diving as a whole, my old coach talked to me. He helped me get through some mental blocks and physical road blocks and long story short I decided to take this year off from Stanford and stay home to focus on training and reviving my dream to become an Olympian. Today I am 100 percent healthy and happy!”
4. Cook has a large and wildly close family.
Kassidy has four sisters and one brother, and the entire family is very close. The siblings live all over the place — Kara lives in San Diego, Kylie lives in Houston, Kelsey lives in San Antonio, Kevin lives in Fort Lauderdale, and Kendall lives in Austin — but still, Kassidy talks to each of her siblings every day, she told People.
“My brother and sisters are my best friends. They’re the people I go to and I talk to them every single day! Every single one of them. We are each other’s biggest fans, we’re a super close-knit, loud, rambunctious family.”
Kassidy falls fifth in the line of Cook siblings, and she’s not the only athlete. Her sister Kara dove at Purdue and her sister Kylie played soccer for the University of Houston.
In addition to having many siblings, Cook also has two dogs: black labs named Bentley and Zoe.
5. Diving from an early age.
Kassidy Cook began diving when she was just 3 years old, and she told NBC Olympics that she actually remembers her first time. She describes the progression as a natural one, since her older sisters were divers already.
Will you tune in to watch Kassidy Cook dive at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro?
[Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images Sport]