Orthofix Medical has announced that it will continue its sponsorship of Olympic gold medalist and spine patient Laura Wilkinson as she undertakes her quest to reach the Tokyo Olympics.
Wilkinson, a three-time US Olympic platform diver, is competing for a spot on the diving team to represent the US at the upcoming Tokyo Olympics, which was postponed from 2020 until the summer of 2021 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Coping with challenges is nothing new for Wilkinson who competed with a broken foot at her first Olympics. In one of the most famous upsets in Olympic history, Wilkinson came from behind to win the 2000 Olympic gold medal in platform diving. After winning the 2004 World Cup and the 2005 World Championships, she became the first woman in history to win all three coveted world diving titles.
In 2017, at age 39, Wilkinson decided to come out of retirement and began training for the Tokyo Olympics. Unfortunately, cervical disc degeneration brought her plans to an abrupt halt in 2018; years of hitting the water at 35 miles per hour had taken a toll on her spine.
Wilkinson’s surgeon performed a successful spine fusion using Orthofix’s cervical solutions which included an Orthofix cervical plate system to stabilise her spine, the Trinity ELITE allograft to aid bone fusion, and the CervicalStim device to stimulate bone growth following surgery. Soon after the procedure, Wilkinson was back diving in the pool, determined to compete at the Tokyo Olympic Games.
“I am grateful to partner with Orthofix as I train to fulfil my dream of once again competing in the summer Olympics,” said Wilkinson. “Without my successful spine fusion and recovery, it would have been difficult to be a wife and the mother to four young children, let alone to be back competing as an athlete at a world-class level.
“When my doctor first told me that I needed spinal fusion surgery, I have to admit it was a little scary,” added Wilkinson. “That’s one of the reasons why I started sharing my journey on social media and posting the different stages I was going through. I wanted people to see that you can overcome these challenges and get your life back. It was important to me to encourage other people who were dealing with cervical disc degeneration and showcase a possible path for recovery.”
Jon Serbousek, Orthofix president and CEO, said: “We are very proud to continue to sponsor Laura on her incredible journey. Our mission at Orthofix is to improve patient mobility through our devices and solutions, enabling patients to live active lives. Helping Laura on her path to potentially becoming a four-time Olympian has been an inspiration for all of us and for everyone who has heard her story.”
The Tokyo Summer Olympics begin on July 23, 2021. Wilkinson will compete to qualify at the US Olympic team trials in Indianapolis which run from June 6–13.