FOR THE RECORD: 1984 OLYMPIAN GAMES: silver (3m springboard): 1988 OLYMPIC GAMES: bronze (3m springboard); 1983, 1987 PAN AMERICAN GAMES: gold (3m springboard); 9 U.S. NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS: 6 – 3m springboard 3-10m platform; 1981 AIAW Champion: 3m springboard.
She was born in 1960, the daughter of two Hall of Famers who must have given her the genes to succeed and the will to use her talents to become one of the best divers of her time. Her mom, Pat McCormick was the first female to win back- to- back diving double Olympic gold medals in succession (1952, 1956) in the 3m springboard and 10m platform events. Her dad was Glenn McCormick, famed diving coach and Kelly’s first trainer and coach during her younger years.
It was during these younger years that Kelly became involved with gymnastics. Within 4 years at age 12, she had become an elite gymnast. Olympic gymnast Kathy Rigby, was on her team, The Long Beach (CA) Scats, traveling the country performing shows and doing school work on the bus. Being surrounded by great athletes, “tom boy” Kelly loved it and she wanted to go to the Olympics in gymnastics.
But by 1974, at age 14, Kelly began “playing around” with diving and for a few years would dive in the summer and compete in gymnastics in the winter. But with her dad as coach, she began to make the national traveling team in diving. While on a trip to Sweden in 1981, she decided to move to Ohio State University to train under coach Vince Panzanno. It was to be a 10 year commitment to diving, which lifted her to international status.
In 1982 Kelly won the first of 9 National Championships (6-3m springboard, 3-10m platform) and an AIAW 3m springboard championship. In 1983 she won the Pan American Games gold medal, but in 1984 she battled a back injury that hospitalized her for six weeks before the Olympic trials. After Vince convinced her not to quit, she recovered to win the Trials and then the Olympic silver medal on the 3m springboard in Los Angeles behind Canada’s Hall of Famer Sylvie Bernier.
In her second Pan American Games (1987, Indianapolis) Kelly took the gold becoming the first woman to win two consecutive Pan Am springboard gold medals. She won the 1988 Olympic trials with a torn calf muscle and the Olympic bronze medal in Seoul behind Hall of Famer Gao Min of China.
Although she had performed to perfection after her injuries of 1984 and 1988, her recurring back problem (a herniated disc) in 1989 made it hard to recover. Receiving cortisone shots helped, and she made the 1990 Goodwill Games team but finished 7th in the event. She finished college and by 1991 was in Seattle, Washington with husband Matt Robertson, as head coach of the Emerald Diving Team, developing young divers to perhaps one day take her place as one of the world’s great divers.
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