"You watch Serena Williams, Simone Biles, Simone Manuel, but when it’s yourself it’s insane" - Kristen Hayden after historic diving victory

Kristen Hayden and Serena Williams
Kristen Hayden and Serena Williams

Kristen Hayden created history by becoming the first black woman to win a US national diving title and finds it hard to believe she's following in the footsteps of pioneers like Serena Williams, Simone Biles and Simone Maunel. Hayden is also the second black person to win a national diving title, following Mike Wright in 2012.

After her incredible feat, Hayden wants to be a role model for minority communities in America and steer the sport to greater heights.

"I don’t think words can even describe the feeling. You read about people like that, you watch Serena Williams, Simone Biles, Simone Manuel, but when it’s yourself it’s insane," she said. "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.”

The Williams sisters have often been credited as trailblazers for young black athletes and succeeding in a predominantly white sport has inspired others to do the same.

Kristen Hayden competed in the mixed-gender synchronized three-meter springboard event along with partner Quinn Henninger. The duo finished first with a score of 286.86, enough to give them a lead of three points over the second-placed duo of Anne Fowler and Carson Tyler.

This was the first time Hayden had teamed up with Henninger and while the main goal was to make the national team, they also wanted to have fun.

"Quinn and I did awesome, we came in with an open mindset. 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,” Hayden said.

Who is Kristen Hayden?

Kristen Hayden at the 2021 U.S. Olympic Trials
Kristen Hayden at the 2021 U.S. Olympic Trials

A native of Hillsborough, New Jersey, Kristen Hayden is currently majoring in Communication Studies at the University of Minnesota. She ventured into the sport of diving at age 10 and was part of the 2016 Junior World Championships team. She is also one of the founding members of USA Diving’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council.

Following her historic win, Hayden was asked what advice she would give her younger self, and she had this to say:

"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."

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Edited by Nihal Taraporvala
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