Dream Big Profile: Sara Reiling
2000 Olympic Diver and Indiana University Junior Sara Reiling found two of her ambitions in life in the pool.
After that experience, she knew that she wanted to work with the hearing impaired. Because of Indiana's well-ranked special education program and athletics programs, Reiling could receive a good education and be able to pursue her love for diving.
Growing up in St. Paul, Minnesota, Reiling started diving at the age of 13. Her first interest was gymnastics; however, she had to find another sport after suffering a lower stress fracture in her back. "The doctor told me that if I kept [gymnastics] up, I might not be able to walk when I was 30." Even though she couldn't perform gymnastics on the ground anymore, she took her skills to the water.
Reiling participates in the springboard and platform diving events for Indiana. She often finds the discipline it takes to succeed in athletics and schoolwork to be comparable. She relates the flexibility of training for a sport with the ability to manage some aspects of classes. For example, Reiling believes that she can better fluctuate with a change in class structure or a syllabus because she has experienced athletic meet situations where the lineup or scheduled dives change at the last minute.
"I know what it takes to push myself," she said. "I know I have to do certain things, and I'm very good about doing that."
Last September, Reiling made her Olympic debut in Sydney, Australia. She spent her last few days of competition making an aggressive move from 22nd to 13th place. She missed the final round by one place. Reiling says that if she stays healthy, she would like to try for the 2004 Olympics, "But bring back a medal this time." The 2000 Olympics was her first international competition.
To young girls pursing sports, Reiling says, "Girls are as good as anyone else. Just because you are a girl doesn't mean you can't do it. Never give up. You must push through the difficult times, and there will be difficult times."