Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Fresh Start Ex-Diving Star Tries to Put Tragic Past Behind Him, Get on with Life

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Fresh Start Ex-Diving Star Tries to Put Tragic Past Behind Him, Get on with Life

Article excerpt

The present. That is where Bruce Kimball tries always to live. He tries always to concentrate on his girlfriend and his closest circle of friends, on his studies at Illinois-Chicago and his part-time job at a South Side law firm, on his myriad responsibilities as the new girls diving coach at New Trier High School.

"It's more beneficial for me to focus on what I can do now, and what I can do from this point forward," he says.

But the past, the tragic past. That is always there lingering, liable at any moment to intrude on Bruce Kimball's present. He, understandably enough, does not talk about this, chooses not to talk about that August night in 1988 when he drove drunk into a group of teen-agers and killed two of them. Yet he hardly can escape it, can escape it neither in private moments nor in those rare moments when he offers himself up for public inspection.

Does that make it hard to stay focused on the present, he is asked.

"Sometimes it's hard, sure," he says. "But I think that's hard sometimes for everybody. I think everybody has a tough time ocassionally. I don't think everyone's life is alwaus easy. At least that's my impression. Everyone has tough times."

But not everyone has been through all you have been through.

"That part about `All I've been through'? You know. I really don't look at it like that. I try to focus on where I'm at now, and what I'm doing now. I look for the best I can get out of every situation. I try to give my best, and that's where I gain my sense of satisfaction. In giving my best effort."

So you don't look at what you have gone through as any different from anyone else's tough times?

"Well" - and here he pauses - "I have my own personal feelings about that. They're personal feelings, so I really don't want to go into that. I have my own outlook on life. My personal place in life. But I don't care to go into that too much."

But how do you manage to keep that past from intruding too much on the present?

"It is a difficult thing, no question about that, and it's certainly more difficult with all the attention."

His father, Dick, was (and still is) the diving coach at Michigan, and so Bruce Kimball gravitated naturally to that sport. He blossomed quickly, eventually winning 14 Junior Olympic national titles, and at 17 stamped himself as one of this country's top prospects with a fifth place finish at the 1980 Olympic Trials.

But the next October, as he was driving friends home, his van was hit head on by a drunken driver, and suddenly Bruce Kimball was fighting not only for his future, but his life as well. His skull was cracked, every bone in his face was broken, his spleen was ruptured, his liver was lacerated, his left leg was broken, his bleeding was torrential, and 14 hours of reconstrcutive surgery was needed to put him back together. Yet, a mere nine months later, he returned to the boards ("The Comeback Kid," he then was called), and when he won a silver medal in platform diving at the 1984 Games of Los Angeles, he stood as a true profile in courage. …

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