David Boudia wants to make a fourth Olympic diving team, and hopefully add to his collection of four medals in Tokyo.
The 2012 Olympic platform champion announced in a news conference Tuesday that he will return after taking the 2017 competition season off.
“I just missed the relationships that I had at the pool, that I had with the diving community,” Boudia, 28, said in West Lafayette, Ind., where he trains at Purdue University. “I don’t want to be 35, 40 years old and say what if I would have given it another shot? Kind of too late at that point.”
Boudia has actually kept this a secret for weeks. He’s been training since June with an eye on a run for the 2020 Games.
“This decision wasn’t easy,” Boudia said. “Leading up to Rio , I was mentally exhausted. It was actually a really hard route getting to the Olympics. … Just not wanting to be there. I was in competition on the big stage and just wondering if the grass was greener on the other side.”
Boudia, after never taking more than three months away from diving since 2000, turned to real estate last winter. But he never committed to retirement. Wait and see.
“If you would have asked me in 2015 if I was done [after Rio], I would have said yes; I was drained,” Boudia said. “One of the big reasons, apart from being exhausted mentally, I just felt like [diving] wasn’t what I was supposed to do. You have all the people saying, oh, you’re getting older. You’re 28. You need to start retiring, thinking about what you’re going to do next in life. It’s fun banter. My teammates would call me grandpa. In my mind, I was thinking, maybe it’s time for me to be done in the sport. I let it simmer.”
He met with his coach, Adam Soldati, in January and March before climbing the platform again in June.
Boudia, from Noblesville, Ind., won platform gold at the 2012 London Games, ending a medal drought for U.S. divers in individual events since Laura Wilkinson‘s surprise Sydney 2000 title.
Boudia became the first U.S. male diver to top the Olympic platform since Greg Louganis, who swept the springboard and platform in 1984 and 1988.
He did so after squeaking into the 18-man semifinals in 18th place and edging China’s Qiu Bo by 1.8 points in the final.
Boudia then came back for a third Olympics in Rio — after marrying wife Sonnie and welcoming daughter Dakoda — and earned a bronze medal.
That gave him four Olympic medals overall, combined with synchronized platform bronze and silver medals in 2012 and 2016. Boudia said in February that he would take the 2017 international season off while working in real estate and assessing his diving future.
Before the Rio Games, Boudia revealed his struggles with alcohol and marijuana as a teenager a decade earlier.
He competed at the 2004 Olympic Trials at age 15 but was never going to dive at the Athens Games. He would have failed a drug test if he made the team for smoking pot shortly before the meet.
Boudia suffered from depression — even suicidal thoughts — after his Olympic debut in 2008 and while at Purdue shortly after the Beijing Games.
He credited among others Adam Soldati, his coach at Purdue and through Rio, for guidance, helping him clean up and become a Christian in 2010.
Without Boudia, the U.S. earned zero medals in Olympic events at the world diving championships in July, getting shut out at the biennial meet for the first time since 2003.
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