By Austin Lyon, Orlando Sentinel, 6:17 p.m. EDT, June 24, 2012
Brittany Viola first dreamed of being an Olympian when she watched the United States women’s gymnastics team win a gold medal at the 1996 Olympics.
Sixteen years later, Viola’s Olympic vision became a reality Sunday.
Viola, an Orlando Lake Highland Prep and University of Miami grad, earned a trip to London by taking first place in the 10-meter platform competition at the U.S. Olympic Diving Trials in Federal Way, Wash.
The 25-year old daughter of former major-league pitcher Frank Viola narrowly missed making the Olympic team in 2004 and ’08. Viola and runner-up Katherine Bell, who finished 57 points behind, advanced to the London Games.
The women’s 10-meter platform Olympic competition will take place Aug. 8-9.
As a 17-year old in the 2004 trials, Viola was five points behind Laura Wilkinson going into the final dive, but she couldn’t outduel the former Olympic gold medalist. That year, only the winner of the trials advanced.
Viola finished fourth in the 2008 trials.
Viola, the favorite entering the competition, led by 30 points going into the finals and extended that advantage with strong scores on her first two of five dives.
Viola, who wore headphones and lip-synced songs between dives, started crying almost immediately after her final dive.
She finished 10th at the world championships last year.
Viola, who was a gymnast through middle school, started diving at 13. She won two NCAA championships at Miami.
More to come . . .