History was made at the USA Diving Winter National Championships this week, with Kristen Hayden becoming the first Black woman to win the national diving title. She now also is the first Black American to earn a bid to the world championships.
This also makes Hayden only one of two Black divers to win the U.S. national titles, joining Mike Wright, who was the first Black National Champion in 2012.
Currently diving for Indiana University, Haden was paired with Quinn Henniger for the 3-meter springboard competition, with the duo taking the lead on their third dive.
“Quinn and I did awesome, we came in with an open mindset,” said Hayden in a statement from Team USA. “We just wanted to have fun. Of course, we wanted to make the team but it was also our first time doing synchro together and we just wanted to do the dives the best we can.”
“I don’t think words can even describe the feeling,” she continued when asked about becoming the first Black female National Champion, “You read about people like that, you watch Serena Williams, Simone Biles, Simone Manuel, but when it’s yourself it’s insane. I think the whole diving community is headed in the right direction and I just want to be a good example for young Black Americans or any minority really for diving in the U.S.”
Hayden is also an advocate fighting for diversity in the sport, and the founding member of USA Diving’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council. When asked what advice she would give to her younger self, “Everything happens for a reason, don’t give up and train hard. Every single day come in with a mindset of what you want to accomplish, look at the best and never give up.”
She will also compete in the Women’s 3-Meter Synchro with Margo O’Meara, as well as the Individual 1-Meter and 3-Meter Events. Henninger will compete in the Men’s 3-Meter Synchronized event as well as the individual 1-Meter and 3-Meter Events. All events will be streamed live on USA Diving’s Facebook, YouTube, and Twitch Channels as well as on USA Diving’s website.
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HERStory Made: Kristen Hayden Becomes The First Black Woman To Win National Diving Title was originally published on blackamericaweb.com