Former Longhorn heads to second straight Olympics

Former homegrown Longhorn Alison Gibson is headed back to the Olympics. She's hoping her Tokyo experience will lead to a medal this time around in Paris.

"This pool that we're in right now, I grew up here. This city is my city, and it's so cool. People made jokes as a kid, I was called mayor of the swim center," Gibson said.

Gibson rode the momentum from that lofty title as a kid and eventually four years in college at UT to the Tokyo Games in 2020. But, the dream fell flat with a dead last finish in the synchronized three-meter springboard. It was a result so devastating, Gibson left diving altogether. 

"I hit the water, and just didn't want to come up. I was like ‘oh my gosh’ I made it all this way. I was making mistakes I had never made before, and I knew everyone at home was watching. It was hard, and I decided that I never want to feel this way again. So I said I'm going to retire, I'm going to get a job, make money, and I'm never going to compete again," she said.

But, the forgettable finish in Tokyo is one she couldn't forget. It's a big part of why she is now heading to Paris, this time as a three-meter springboard qualifier.

"The way I competed at the Olympics last time, I wasn't proud of. But, I said I'm going to take this leap of faith. I'm going to get over these fears and these doubts and these lies in my head. And it's incredible to see where I've come in less than a year," Gibson said.

Gibson's banking on some advantages this time around. She has already competed once at the Olympic pool in Paris. The maturity that comes from age and her full-time job as a communication consultant, and perhaps a redefining of what makes her a successful diver.

"It's about getting over those mental blocks in practice, it's about competing in a way that I'm proud of. It's about qualifying for the USA quota spot. The end result is amazing, but you're made up of your journey. Right? Your journey is what makes you who you are, it's what gives you your strength. The Olympics is just a check on the resume that proves that I'm one of the best in the world. But it doesn't define me. My placement there doesn't define my value," Gibson said.