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Knoxville platform diver reaches for Olympic glory with family's help

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(WBIR) Professional diver and Olympic hopeful Tori Lamp Wood has been competing at the world-class level for over half her life.

As her 15-year career comes to an end, the Bearden High and University of Tennessee graduate is preparing for her last shot to become part of Team USA.

Her family is supporting her every step of the way.

The 25-year-old has traveled around the world, with a strong support team led by parents Diane and Danny. Both saw signs of her great athletic talents from the beginning.

 “At nine months, we had to put her bed on the floor because she kept climbing out of her crib,” Diane Lamp said.  “Even then she was doing her tumbling, you know.”

She excelled at gymnastics to become a Level 10 gymnast, the highest level in the United States Junior Olympic program. But a summer diving class at her parents’ alma mater on Rocky Top would change her path to greatness.

That’s where Tori caught the eye of her current diving coach, Dave Perrington, and made a bold statement for the then 10-year-old’s future.

Perrington believed if she gave up gymnastics and focused on diving she could be a world-class athlete.  

From there, the former gymnast worked to reach her potential and became the U.S. junior platform champion, a three-time All-American and a high school national champion. The achievements led her to follow her parents’ footsteps to the University of Tennessee.

Danny Lamp reflects on the moment in her freshman year when Tori wasted no time making a name for herself.

“She was the last diver on the last event. Had to score a 88 ½ in the meet. She blows a kiss to her teammates and walked up there and smoked the dive, and the place went nuts,” Lamp said.

After picking up a degree in Kinesiology, the two-time SEC diver of the year decided to commit full time to the sport she loves.

She also battled injuries along the way.

“At the Worlds, she landed on the side of her ear in warm-ups and we didn’t know,” Danny said. “She cleared the concussion test and drove in. Still finished 10th in that situation.”

The injuries have made it harder for Diane to watch Tori dive from a platform that is 10 meters, or 33 feet, high into the water below.

“I just don’t want her to get hurt. I enjoy watching her dive, but mostly on instant replay,” Danny said.

After finishing just three slots shy of an Olympic slot in 2012, the Road to Rio for Lamp-Wood has been even harder. She works two full-time coaching jobs, trains up to four hours a day, and dedicates at least 20 hours a week to her corporate sponsor -- all while juggling life as a newlywed. But her parents couldn’t be prouder of the athlete and the person she has become.

“She’s just a great athlete and great person and all Vol, Diane said.

“The parents come up and say what a great kid she is. How she helps the young divers, as she as a senior diver, always meant a lot,” Danny said.  “Everywhere we go I hear how much they appreciate our daughter.”

Now the hometown girl is ready for her opportunity at Olympic glory.

“I just want to give it one more chance. If I qualify it’ll be just a dream come true, if I don’t I had a great career,” Lamp-Wood said. “I just want to give my all and make sure I don’t have any regrets when I retire.”

“It’s very exciting what she’s done and where she’s going,” Danny said.  “But if she does make the Olympic team, I will break the internet. I will shut it down! Social networking will go off.”

Tori has been training in Wisconsin for the past two years as her husband, Lucas, completes his studies at Marquette University Law School. Next year, they plan to settle back in Knoxville to start their family.

But first, she has to complete her Road to the Rio Olympic games. Tune in to watch Tori in the women’s 10-meter platform finals at 8 p.m. Saturday, June 25 on WRCB. 

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