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Five men to watch at U.S. Olympic Diving Trials

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Diving sets the stage this weekend for three eventful weeks of U.S. Olympic Trials. Berths on the diving team headed to Rio will be awarded next week, and the squad will be known in full June 26.

Preliminary rounds take place each day in Indianapolis from Saturday through Tuesday, followed by finals June 22-26. Much of the action will be aired live on NBC, NBCSN and streamed on NBC Sports Live Extra.

U.S. divers qualified for Olympic berths in seven of eight events. They failed to secure a spot in the women’s synchronized springboard event, but will compete in men’s synchronized springboard and platform, men’s individual springboard and platform, women’s synchronized platform, and women’s individual springboard and platform.

Here are five men’s divers to watch at trials. Click here for the women.

David Boudia
The defending Olympic gold medalist in the men’s platform, Boudia is all but a lock to make the U.S. team. He won the platform event at both the 2008 and 2012 trials and remains a strong medal contender internationally; Boudia took silver at the past three World Championships. He also won bronze in London’s synchronized platform event with the since-retired Nick McCrory, but now dives with Steele Johnson. Boudia resides in West Lafayette, Ind., which is home to his alma mater, Purdue, and just an hour’s drive from Indianapolis.

Steele Johnson
Boudia and the 20-year-old Johnson have known each other since Boudia drove Johnson to practice years ago in the Indianapolis suburbs, and Johnson followed in Boudia’s footsteps by enrolling at Purdue. They now train together and are each other’s main domestic competition. Johnson captured the 2015 NCAA championship in men’s platform, and also won the event at the past three Winter Nationals (though Boudia was absent). The U.S. holds two Olympic berths in the event, so Boudia and Johnson are favored to secure them. Johnson is also a good bet in the synchronized platform event, with Boudia.

Troy Dumais
A veteran of four Olympics, the 36-year-old Dumais is looking to become the first diver to make five U.S. Olympic teams. He’s a long shot in the individual springboard event (he placed fourth at Winter Nationals), but a strong contender in synchronized springboard, the event in which he won 2012 Olympic bronze with Kristian Ipsen. Dumais and Ipsen placed second at the 2015 Summer and Winter Nationals.

Kristian Ipsen
Ipsen is the reigning national champ in men’s springboard and a favorite to capture one of two U.S. berths in the event. He’d be an outside medal contender in Rio, where he secured a bronze medal at the World Cup stop in February. The U.S. hasn’t won an Olympic springboard medal since 1996. In synchronized springboard, Ipsen placed second with Dumais at the two major national events last year, but also won both events with another partner, Sam Dorman. Divers can compete with multiple partners at some events, but Ipsen will not at trials. Ipsen and Dumais are paired together again, eyeing a return to the podium in Rio.

David Dinsmore
A dark horse in the men’s platform is Dinsmore, who won the event at last year’s Summer Nationals. Neither Boudia nor Johnson competed, however. With Johnson in the field at Winter Nationals, Dinsmore took third. The 19-year-old Miami student did, however, top Johnson at the World Cup event in Rio this past February. He edged out Johnson for bronze, and likely will need a similar performance to earn an Olympic berth.

MORE: Full NBC Olympic Trials broadcast schedule

Ehsan Hadadi, Iran’s first Olympic track and field medalist, has coronavirus

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Ehsan Hadadi, Iran’s lone Olympic track and field medalist, tested positive for the coronavirus, according to World Athletics and an Iranian news agency.

“We’ve received word from several Asian journalists that Iranian discus thrower Ehsan Hadadi has tested positive for coronavirus,” according to World Athletics. “[Hadadi] trains part of the year in the US, but was home in Tehran when he contracted the virus.”

Hadadi, 35, became the first Iranian to earn an Olympic track and field medal when he took silver in the discus at the 2012 London Games. Hadadi led through four of six rounds before being overtaken by German Robert Harting, who edged the Iranian by three and a half inches.

He was eliminated in qualifying at the Rio Olympics and placed seventh at last fall’s world championships in Doha.

Jordan Larson preps for her last Olympics, one year later than expected

Jordan Larson
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Whether the Tokyo Olympics would have been this summer or in 2021, Jordan Larson knew this: It will mark her final tournament with the U.S. volleyball team, should she make the roster.

“I’m just not getting any younger,” said Larson, a 33-year-old outside hitter. “I’ve been playing consistently overseas for 12 years straight with no real offseason.

“I also have other endeavors in my life that I want to see. Getting married, having children, those kinds of things. The older I get, the more challenging those become.”

Larson, who debuted on the national team in 2009, has been a leader the last two Olympic cycles. She succeeded Christa Harmotto Dietzen as captain after the Rio Games. Larson started every match at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics.

As long as Larson was in the building, the U.S. never had to worry about the outside hitter position, said two-time Olympian and NBC Olympics volleyball analyst Kevin Barnett.

“She played as if she belonged from the start,” he said. “They will miss her all-around capability. They’ll miss her ability to make everyone around her better. She’s almost like having a libero who can hit.”

Karch Kiraly, the Olympic indoor and beach champion who took over as head coach after the 2012 Olympics, gushed about her court vision.

“It’s a little dated now, but somebody like Wayne Gretzky just saw things that other people didn’t see on the hockey rink,” Kiraly said in 2018. “And I remember reading about him one time, and the quote from an opposing goalie was, oh my god, here he comes, what does he see that I don’t see right now? She sees things sooner than most people.”

Larson grew up in Hooper, Neb., (population 830) and starred at the University of Nebraska. She was a three-time All-American who helped the team win a national title as a sophomore. She had the opportunity to leave Nebraska and try out for the Olympics in 2008 but chose to remain at school for her final season.

She earned the nickname “Governor” as a Cornhusker State sports icon.

Larson helped the U.S. win its first major international title at the 2014 World Championship. She was also part of the program’s two stingers — defeats in the 2012 Olympic final and 2016 Olympic semifinals, both matches where the U.S. won the first set (and convincingly in 2012).

“It just gives me chills thinking about it now,” Larson said of the Rio Olympic semifinals, where Serbia beat the U.S. 15-13 in the fifth. “That team, we put in so much. Not just on the court but off the court working on culture and working on how are we best for each other. How can we be the best team? How can we out-team people? Certain teams have a better one player that’s a standout that we maybe didn’t have or don’t have. So how can we out-team the other teams? We had just put in so much work that was just heartbreaking.”

Larson and the Americans rebounded to win the bronze-medal match two days later.

“I don’t know anybody that didn’t have their heart ripped out. It was just a soul-crusher of a match,” Kiraly said of the semifinal. “More meaningful was what a great response everybody, including Jordan, mounted to the disappointment of that loss.”

The U.S. took fifth at worlds in 2018 and is now ranked second in the world behind China.

Larson spent the past club season in Shanghai. The campaign ended in mid-January. She hadn’t heard anything about the coronavirus when she took her scheduled flight back to California, learning days later that LAX started screening for it. Now, she’s working out from her garage.

Larson is in line to become the fifth-oldest U.S. Olympic women’s volleyball player in history, according Olympedia and the OlyMADMen.

Her decade of experience could go a long way to help the next generation of outside hitters, led by three-time NCAA champion and Sullivan Award winner Kathryn Plummer.

“If you’re coming into the USA program as an outside hitter, in the next year or the quad or the quad after that,” Barnett said, “the measuring stick is going to be Jordan Larson.”

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