Mom of 4 Laura Wilkinson Trying for Olympic Diving Comeback at Age 43: 'Every Dive Is a Gift'

·3 min read

Shaun Botterill/Allsport/Getty Laura Wilkinson

Laura Wilkinson is training for Tokyo!

Over two decades after picking up an Olympic gold medal in 2000 - and 13 years after retiring from the sport - the mom of four is training to hopefully make the team once again.

In fact, Wilkinson, 43, recently qualified to compete in the U.S. Diving Olympic Trials final on Sunday.

"I never thought I would get to come back and dive again after I retired 13 years ago. This is really a gift. Every dive is a gift." she told NBC Sports, at the time, noting that it's also been wonderful to get to share these moments with her children. "My kids have been in the stands. That to me is really special."

Wilkinson retired at age 30 after her third trip to the Olympic Games in 2008. At the time, she and her husband Eriek Hulseman hoped to start growing their family, according to Team USA.

They welcomed their first child, daughter Arella, in 2011. They also share daughters Zoe and Dakaia as well as son Zadok.

This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.

RELATED: Chellsie Memmel, 32, Comes Out of Retirement After Becoming a Mom of 2 to Compete at U.S. Classic

Speaking about her incredible journey - which also included recovering from spinal surgery in 2018 - Wilkinson has said that what keeps her motivated is her love for the sport.

"I'm kind of just surprised I'm doing it, honestly," she told Today in an interview that aired Friday. "When I retired at 30 I was old back then, so yeah this whole journey has been a crazy fun road."

"When you feel called to do something and you're passionate about it, you just want to be all in," Wilkinson added.

As for her children, although some of them are too young to fully "understand what's going on," they've all been supportive, attending her matches and cheering her on.

Kirk Irwin/Getty Laura Wilkinson

"I think my older kids, I've got one that's 9 and one that's 10, and they kind of understand what's going on and they're getting really into it, but my little ones, they get excited they want to clap and cheer, but then they're like, 'can we just go home and play now?' " she added with a laugh.

Want to get the biggest stories from PEOPLE every weekday? Subscribe to our new podcast, PEOPLE Every Day, to get the essential celebrity, entertainment and human interest news stories Monday through Friday.

Kirk Irwin/Getty

Although her comeback journey has been full of challenges, Wilkinson said that those ups and downs are exactly what "makes the journey worth it."

"It's never going to be an easy road, but that's what makes the journey worth it," she told Today. "When you get to the other side, whether you achieve all your goals and your dreams or you don't, going through all of that, it refines you as a person, it's walking through that fire, and you become better in that process."

"I feel very much like this is exactly where I need to be, I don't know why, but I love getting to do this again. Who knows how long that's for, but I'm just trying to love and soak up every moment," Wilkinson added. "I want to do everything the best that I can and walk away feeling proud whether I am on that team or not."

To learn more about all the Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls, visit TeamUSA.org. Watch the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics this summer on NBC.