If it hadn't sunk in just yet to Krysta Palmer that she is an Olympic medalist, Saturday's Nevada-Idaho State football game drove that message home.
Palmer, a Wolf Pack alum, attended the game wearing Olympic gear and was swarmed by Northern Nevadans who wanted to congratulate her and hold her bronze medal. By the end of the night, Palmer's voice was nearly gone as a result of all the conversations she had. Her Olympic medal also had a little ding on the bottom.
"I actually already dropped it once, but I figure this is to be shared anyways," Palmer said of her medal on Wednesday's NSN Daily. "I think a lot of kids are going to hold it. If it gets dropped, it just means that it's been shared. I've definitely been sharing it and letting kids hold it because I think it serves as good inspiration to younger generations and I think it shares a story, and for somebody to actually hold it is maybe more impactful than just hearing the story about it."
Palmer said the realization of what she accomplished last month in Tokyo is finally starting to sink in. Palmer earned a bronze medal in the 3-meter dive to become the first American woman to win an Olympic diving medal since 2000 and the first to do so in her event since 1988.
"Every morning I wake up and think about it again and how it all went down and just have to pinch myself, honestly," Palmer said. "Now I believe it a little bit more, but I had to re-watch my event to even believe it because I was in complete disbelief for a while there."
The Carson City native and Douglas High graduate will get to the ring the bell at this week's Green Bay Packers home game against the Detroit Lions on Monday Night Football, one of the perks she's had since returning to the United States. She's become a popular face in Reno, where she lives and serves as a volunteer assistant coach for the Nevada swimming and diving team.
"I feel like a total celebrity," Palmer said. "I've never experienced that feeling before of people coming up to me at restaurants saying, 'Are you Krysta Palmer?' To me, it's cool when somebody recognizes me because it just shows somebody is watching and they support athletes of our community because we all need support from everybody to make dreams possible. I've totally felt like a total celeb, and it's been pretty cool. The best part of the journey coming home is being able to share my Olympic medal. A lot of people have never held one before. They've never seen one even. To be able to share it and let them hold it and look at it has been really exciting to me. Everybody reacts differently."
One of Palmer's close friends, Nicola Ader, a six-time All-American on the Nevada track and field team, cried when she held the medal. The German native would one day like to be an Olympian, with Palmer serving as proof that Wolf Pack athletes can achieve that dream.
"To see people's reactions has been so, so fun," Palmer said.
Palmer's journey to an Olympic bronze wasn't easy as injuries forced her give up gymnastics and trampoline, where she was a world-class athlete. She believed her athletic career was over before getting a tip to walk onto the club diving team coached by the Wolf Pack's Jian Li You. She picked up the sport at age 20, qualified for the U.S. Olympic trials at 24 and won her medal at 29. She competed in Tokyo with a torn ACL but isn't done diving despite her advanced age for the sport.
Palmer will continue training in hopes of qualifying for the 2024 Olympics in Paris. Palmer doesn't believe she's reached her peak as a diver.
"As long as my body permits me to train," Palmer said of wanting to qualify for the 2024 Games. "I'll continue until I reach my peak or I stop having fun. Throughout my whole journey, I've tried to remember to have fun because that's what sports are about and that's why I haven't become burnt out at the age of 29 in sports because I've continued to see the beauty and the fun of the journey. This has been so much fun. Going for it again and knowing I still have more in me, I'm not 100 percent diver yet. I still have a little bit of gymnast and trampoline showcasing in my diving, which is cool. But there's more for me to achieve. I'm setting my dreams beyond what this is, and we'll see where it goes."
You can watch our two segments of NSN Daily with Krysta Palmer below.