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Krysta Palmer completes storybook journey to Olympic medal in diving

(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

At 20 years old, Krysta Palmer began her diving career. Nine years later, she’s an Olympic medalist.

After a series of knee injuries sidelined her from competing in gymnastics and then trampoline, the Nevada native met diving coach Jianli You at the University of Nevada and decided to give the sport a try.

Now, at 29, Palmer is the first American woman to medal in an individual diving event since 2000. In her Olympic debut in Tokyo, she won bronze with a total score of 343.75 in the individual 3m springboard final on Sunday morning, bringing an end to a three-decade drought for the U.S. in the sport.

The Chinese diving pair of Shi Tingmao and Wang Han finished in the top two spots.

Palmer’s spot on the podium came as a bit of a surprise after she nearly failed to advance beyond the preliminary round. Only the top 18 divers qualify for the semifinals, and Palmer finished 15th.

From there, however, Palmer finished fifth in the next round and nailed all of her dives in the final round to place third.

Palmer’s medal is the first for Team USA in the event since Kelly McCormick won bronze in 1988.