Oregon cliff diver dreams of Olympic gold

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by Michael Berk

KING5.com

Posted on June 8, 2012 at 1:17 PM

PORTLAND - It’s a 125-foot plunge off the cliff at La Quebrada.

This is a place for seasoned pros. It’s a place where one miscalculation of the tide can lead to disaster. It’s also where Cassie Weil got her start in diving.

“When he counted, uno, dos, tres,” Weil said of her diver partner in Mexico, “I just dove in.”

The Hillsboro girl was just 10 years old when she went right off that cliff in Acapulco.

Now she may be counting to three off a board in London this summer, if things go well at this months’ U.S Olympic Diving trials in Federal Way, Washington.

“If you’re in the competition, you have a shot,” said Tualatin dive coach Joe Lyons.

A shot at the Olympic games. Not bad for a kid who once walked to the edge of the platform, looked down, and nearly walked back down the steps, forever.

“I had hit a wall and couldn’t learn a new dive,” said the soon-to-be LSU freshman.

“So I figured, ‘Why would I keep diving? I’m never going to get anywhere if I don’t learn a new dive.' But eventually I got over that.”

That much is obvious when you watch her during one of her 2 to 3 hour practice sessions in Beaverton. Every move from platform to pool is carefully scripted and observed by Lyons.

“Her skill level is a testament to 'When you set your mind to something, you can do it,'” Lyons said.

Cassie now believes she can do almost anything off a dive platform as long as she has her lucky blanket nearby. It’s a relic she brings with her on the road to every competition.

She’s had it since she was a baby. She had it when she counted to tres on that cliff in Acapulco.

“I would love to go back there,” she said when asked if she’d consider that type of dangerous dive ever again.

But the Olympic trials come first. And if she qualifies for this years’ games in London, she can proudly count to three in her native language.

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