When we last checked on Michael Wright, he had just won a USA National Diving championship. Now, the Forest Park native has set his sights on the world stage. He’s traveling to Seattle in June, to compete for a spot on the US Olympic Diving Team. Michael is currently ranked 12th in the country and will be contending against 34 divers for the chance to compete in London.
Michael just graduated from the University of Tennessee with degrees in graphic design and fine arts. He also enjoyed a storied diving career; serving as team captain, setting school records, being named an NCAA All-American and helping his team win the SEC Championship.
Fine art may have been a big interest for Michael when he started college but since then his focus has been sports. He is returning to the university in the fall to pursue a Masters in Sports Psychology. He also landed the perfect graduate assistantship: working and teaching at the school’s aquatic center.
Growing up, Michael was a constant presence at the Forest Park Aquatic Center. He was one of those kids that kept plunging off the board and climbing out to get back in line. He cherishes his childhood memories of living in a town, where “there was always something to do and places to go.”
Nowadays, Michael doesn’t dive off boards at public or private pools, no matter how much his friends egg him on. Diving is already dangerous and these non-competitive boards tend to be slippery and lack the proper tension. Michael already suffered a severe injury in 2010, when he was learning a new dive off the ten-meter platform. His awkward landings caused stress fractures to three vertebrae and he had to wear a back brace for nine weeks.
Danger, of course, is part of the allure of diving. Michael still gets an adrenaline rush every time he launches himself skyward. His best event is the one-meter springboard but for the Olympics he’s training for three-meter dives. The added height means Michael can add more flips and twists on the way to splashdown.
At the Olympic trials, Michael will execute six different dives. He said that judges are looking for consistency in height and form and degree of difficulty. Judges also want divers close to the board and Michael has occasionally hit a hand or foot on the way down. They also want minimal splash entry. To lessen the splash Michael makes a “hole” with his hands and swims through it.
Michael’s family has attended many of his meets and they will be poolside in Seattle. Michael is still in the process of raising money to defray his training and transportation costs. Those wishing to support Michael can visit raiseforwright.com An Olympian from Forest Park – that would be another first for Michael Wright.