Woodlands diver overcomes injuries, vies for spot on US Olympic team

THE WOODLANDS, TX (KTRK) -- Instead of teetering atop a diving board, Kassidy Cook spent the summer of 2012 watching the London Olympic games from her hospital bed. Now, the Woodlands native is just an event away from making the US Olympic diving team and heading to Rio this summer.

Cook's journey to Olympic hopeful started when she was just 4 years old.

"As soon as I was old enough to start jumping off the boards, I did," said Cook.

As she grew up, Cook trained at the Woodlands Diving Academy and became a member of the US National Diving Team in 2012 while she was just a 17-year-old high school student. However, she narrowly missed making the 2012 Olympic team by .42 points.

A few months later, Cook would tare the labrum in her right shoulder, fully sidelining her as the 2012 Olympics were getting underway. There were also knee injuries and a stress injury to her back.

"There's points where I got scared and thought I would never be as good as I was," said Cook of her time away from competition.

To build her back up, Cook says it took a team of supporters -- starting with her equally athletic family. Her father played football at Columbia University, her mother -- a West Point basketball player and she has five siblings -- Kevin, Kara, Kelsey, Kylie and Kendall, all of them driven athletes.

"They definitely have molded me into the person I am," said Cook of her supportive family.

Also on her team of supporters, Kassidy's doctor, Mark Yezak. Dr. Yezak also worked with fellow Woodlands diver and Olympic gold medalist Laura Wilkinson.

"You see a certain level of drive you just don't see in the everyday athlete," Yezak said of the parallels he sees between Cook and Wilkinson.

Yezak took Cook out of competition for several years after her back injury. The aim was for Cook to heal well enough so she could dive again. Though, he says pulling a determined athlete like Cook wasn't easy.

"You get in a situation where your heart goes into it, not just you making medical decisions," Yezak said.

Now healed, Cook has taken off her junior year at Stanford University to focus on the 2016 summer Olympic games in Rio. She placed seventh at the FINA Diving World Cup in February, helping to clinch a spot for the US team in the 3-meter springboard event at the summer Olympics. Next month, she'll have to dive well enough to make sure she is the one diving for the US in Rio.

"The goal doesn't stop at just making it, but winning it," said Cook.
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