Austinite and former University of Texas diver Alison Gibson says she's good at "turning off her brain."
The 21-year-old diver said it's all a mental game as she heads to Tokyo ready to represent herself, her alma mater and her country at the 2021 Olympics.
At a meet-and-greet at Orangetheory Fitness in Austin, the soon-to-be Olympian told Austonia the key to her success, aside from 12 years of hard work and dedication, is clearing her mind before each dive.
"It's really easy for doubts and fears to seep into your mind," Gibson said. "I try to just relax and have fun because the thing is, my body knows what to do, my brain knows what to do, and I just have to kind of allow that to happen."
Gibson signed autographs and took pictures with fans at OrangeTheory fitness on Mueller on Monday. (Claire Partain/Austonia)
The hard work has paid off; after starting a diving career path at age nine, Gibson became UT's first NCAA diving champion in 10 years in the one-meter competition as a freshman in 2017. She followed up with three Big 12 Championships and was named to both the 2019 USA Diving Tier Two diving team and Team USA at the 2018 FINA Diving World Cup.
Gibson said she never knew she would be an Olympian, just that she loved the sport itself.
"I just fell in love with it really quickly," Gibson. "I always had the dream of becoming an Olympian, but I was always a small goal person. As I achieved each of those goals, it led me one step closer to making the Olympic team."
Alison Gibson and Krysta Palmer secured their tickets to the #TokyoOlympics after their final dive of night.@USADiving | #DivingTrials21 x #TokyoOlympicspic.twitter.com/MgG3muP6zQ
— #TokyoOlympics (@NBCOlympics) June 11, 2021
Gibson found out she was going to the Olympics alongside partner Krysta Palmer in June at the Olympic Trials. Although it took four days for the competition to end, Gibson said she knew they had punched the golden ticket as she hit the water.
"I actually kind of knew (as) I was under the water," Gibson said. "I knew that was good enough to make the team. And it was so cool, because we just came out and hugged each other. It was just a super surreal experience."
"Pinch me, am I dreaming?!"
Alison Gibson and Krysta Palmer react to qualifying for the #TokyoOlympics.@USADiving | #DivingTrials21@OnHerTurfpic.twitter.com/EjKQpuUOO4
— #TokyoOlympics (@NBCOlympics) June 11, 2021
While Gibson has been part of a rigorous physical training schedule—she had just finished weight training prior to the sendoff—sometimes the mental side of the sport takes just as much practice.
To separate her own self-worth from her performance, which Gibson said would be a "roller coaster," Gibson relies on her Christian faith to stay grounded. She prays before each dive and was prayed for by well-wishers at her church on Sunday.
"My identity is in Christ (and) because of that, the things that happen in diving and things that happen in life don't affect my image of myself," Gibson said. "I think that's something a lot of people kind of get caught up in at a high level, so I really wanted to make sure that I stayed humble and grounded and knew where my true identity was."
Gibson wants more than a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics; her other goal is to meet star gymnast Simone Biles.
"I'm going to be like, 'Look, we're both from Texas, let's be best friends,'" Gibson said.
On a more serious note, Gibson wants to impact young athletes on their own journey. She knows what it's like to get burnt out, and she hopes to inspire them to keep going.
"Always have fun and remember where you came from, and remember why you started doing what you're doing," Gibson said. "I love the feeling of flying, I love the feeling of hitting the water, I just love every part of it. If you can take a step back and remind yourself of the real reason why you're doing it, that really helps you keep pushing through the really hard times."
Gibson heads to Tokyo on Saturday, but there's no need to pack her bags; she'll be stocked up with plenty of Team USA gear once she gets to her first Olympic Village. The long-awaited ceremony begins less than a week later on Friday, July 24.
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The Austin woman suspected of killing star cyclist visiting from out of town, Moriah "Mo" Wilson, has now been captured after evading arrest for more than a month.
Kaitlin Marie Armstrong, an Austin yoga instructor, is believed by officials to be the killer of Wilson, who was found with gunshot wounds in a friend's house on May 11. The murder is being investigated as a crime of passion after Wilson met up with Armstrong's ex-boyfriend.
According to the U.S. Marshals, Armstrong was located at a hostel on Santa Teresa Beach in Provincia de Puntarenas, Costa Rica. Officials said she may have been using her sister's name after fleeing Austin on May 14, the day after police questioned her. She was last identified at Newark Liberty International Airport on May 18.
Federal authorities say they plan on returning Armstrong to the U.S., where she'll face charges of murder and unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.
Here's a timeline of events since the night of Wilson's murder.
- The night of her death, Wilson met with Armstrong’s ex-boyfriend Colin Strickland, a fellow pro cyclist. According to an affidavit, the pair went swimming, then to dinner, before he dropped Wilson off at her friend's home where she was staying in East Austin at around 8:30 p.m.
- While Wilson and Stickland had previously had a romantic relationship, Stickland said the two were friends. The affidavit says Strickland lied to Armstrong about his whereabouts that evening.
- Video footage shows Armstrong’s Jeep pulled up nearby the home within a minute of Wilson arriving home.
- At around 10 p.m., Wilson's friend called Austin police after finding her in a pool of blood. Wilson had been staying with the friend ahead of the upcoming bike race in nearby Hico, Texas.
- Armstrong was brought in for questioning the day after the murder and released after appearing “very still and guarded” when confronted with video evidence.
- The Lone Star Fugitive Task Force said her black Jeep Cherokee was sold to a South Austin CarMax dealership on May 13 for $12,200.
- She leaves from the Austin airport on May 14.
- Shell casings found on the scene matched a gun belonging to Armstrong.
- Austin police obtained an arrest warrant for Armstrong on May 17.
- She took a flight from Newark Liberty International Airport to San Jose, Costa Rica on May 18 using a fraudulent passport, according to the Marshals.
- On May 25, another warrant was obtained for unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.
- On June 29, she was captured by the U.S. Marshals
On Thursday, the Supreme Court limited the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority in regulating greenhouse gases, a move that comes at a time when experts have warned about the need to take action on climate change.
The ruling was brought after a challenge to a lower court opinion brought by Texas and more than a dozen other states.
Vaibhav Bahadur, an associate professor in the Cockrell School of Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin called the SCOTUS decision significant, noting that Texas is the biggest energy producer in the U.S., and produces more energy than the United Kingdom.
“Power generation accounts for a significant fraction of U.S. carbon emissions, and the EPA loses its ability to control what's happening in about half of that sector,” Bahadur said. “And it's not just the U.S., I think people and environmentalists on pretty much anywhere on the planet will be disappointed because this is going in the wrong direction. We know we want to be decarbonizing, and this is essentially putting a roadblock on progress toward decarbonization.”
So, we’re going to need some insurance, Bahadur says. He’s carrying out work that’ll act as such through his research on carbon capture and sequestration (CCS), the process of sucking carbon from the air and burying it.
For the past five years, he’s been working on a novel approach to storing carbon. It involves supercharging the formation of carbon dioxide-based crystal structures and storing billions of tons of carbon under the ocean floor.
“If all of this is successful, then we will have another option for safely and responsibly storing carbon at the bottom of the seabed for essentially eternity,” Bahadur said.
Still, Bahadur talked about a different approach to responsibly cutting down emissions in the next decade, and doing so in a meaningful and substantial way, then the environment will eventually heal itself and we might not need CCS.
But that’s not the path we’re headed down.
“We're already starting to see temperature records being shattered this year, and we're still to hit peak summer,” Bahadur said. “All of this just makes me think that we need CCS to a larger extent, and possibly sooner than what a lot of scientists anticipate, especially if we can't keep our emissions in check.”
Gary Rochelle, a professor in the department of chemical engineering at UT, thinks CCS was ready to be deployed in 2010 and those 12 years have made a difference.
“But now we've emitted all that CO2,” Rochelle said. “And unfortunately, unlike other pollutants, when you emit CO2, it's there. It's not going away.”
Gary Rochelle and Vaibhav Bahadur are both researching technology to address carbon emissions. (UT)
Still, the delay is good in that now researchers like him have had time to learn about and improve the technology, allowing for fewer problems once it's deployed.
In December, UT announced a licensing agreement with advanced technology company Honeywell. The technology from that is targeted at power, steel, cement and other industrial plants to lower emissions.
Rochelle has been working on the technology since 2000 as part of an international collaborative effort. When he talked to Austonia on Thursday, he had just had calls with collaborators in Germany and Norway. Currently, he’s working with some Ph.D. students on addressing a chemical reaction that can happen with the technology known as oxidation that could lead to ammonia emissions and cause problems for a large-scale commercial unit.
Rochelle says he’s driven to this work because he wants to make a contribution.
“We're trying to develop this technology so that we can make a difference,” Rochelle said. “It's a nice problem to work on. The students are motivated and those are the primary things which drive us.”
Meanwhile, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott celebrated the high court’s decision which acted as a blow to President Joe Biden’s plan to reduce emissions.
“Today’s landmark victory against an out-of-control administration is also a big win for Americans who worry about skyrocketing energy costs due to expensive federal regulations that threaten our energy industry,” Abbott said. “President Biden cannot keep attacking the energy industry and the hardworking men and women who power our nation.”
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