David Boudia, Steele Johnson win U.S. Olympic Diving Trials

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Steele Johnson wouldn’t let the reality sink in until after the final dive Thursday night. David Boudia wouldn’t let him.

Standing off to the side of the 10-meter platform, Johnson realized he and synchronized diving teammate Boudia had such a large lead if they didn’t complete their final dive they would still win the final round and earn spots in the Olympic Games.

But Boudia, who competed in the 2008 and 20012 Olympics, reeled in his teammate and the pair completed their final dive, finishing with a score of 1,326.57 to cement their spot on the U.S. team.

Ryan Hawkins and Toby Stanley finished in second at 1,088.55.

“I knew we didn’t have to do our last dive because we were so far ahead, but (David) brought me back down to where we needed to be,” Johnson said. “He said we still had a job to do, but the second we hit the water (the emotions) came out.”

They won by 238 points, and they did it Indianapolis just miles from their hometowns. And if there was a moment where the two left no doubt in the minds of their competitors and spectators that were present, it was their 4 1/2-rotation forward summersault in the fifth round that garnered a 101.01 from the judges and an almost standing ovation from the crowd in attendance.

“How those dives went tonight is how they go in training,” Johnson said.

Boudia added, “Diving like this is in our bag of tricks, we train like this. But for it to play out like this in competition right before we leave for (Rio) is exactly what we wanted. Yes we did make it to the Olympic Games, but this isn’t where (success) stops. This is just the beginning.”

Boudia said Thursday night was the most emotional he has ever been in this, his third time making the Summer Games.

As the two came out of the water on their final dive, they ran over to the section where their families were sitting. Boudia hugged his wife and then raised his daughter into the air before hugging her. Johnson’s family, all of them donning matching t-shirts in support of Steele, gathered around the railing and waited for Johnson. When Johnson made it to the railing, he and his father shared a very emotional moment as the two hugged.

Johnson said he had been off social media for three weeks, and would only hop back on the grid for tonight. Tomorrow, the two will be back on the platform, practicing for the 10-meter individual final Sunday (standings here). Then, preparing for the Olympics in less than two months will be the only focus.

As Johnson began talking about the individual task ahead of both divers for Sunday’s event and the training the pair still needs before Rio, Boudia interrupted his teammate — it was time for Johnson to embrace the moment and forget about everything else.

“We get to enjoy this night,” Boudia said, looking at Johnson as he started to fight back tears.

MORE: Athletes qualified for U.S. Olympic team

Mark Spitz takes on Katie Ledecky’s challenge

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Swimmers around the world took on Katie Ledecky‘s milk-glass challenge since it became a social media sensation, including one of the few Americans with more Olympic gold medals.

Mark Spitz, who won seven golds at the 1972 Munich Games, took 10 strokes in an at-home pool while perfectly balancing a glass of what appeared to be water on his head.

“Would’ve been faster with the ‘stache, @markspitzusa, but I still give this 7 out of 7 gold medals,” Ledecky tweeted.

Spitz joined fellow Olympic champions Susie O’Neill of Australia and American Matt Grevers in posting similar videos to what Ledecky first shared Monday.

In Tokyo next year, Ledecky can pass Spitz’s career gold-medal count of nine if she wins all of her expected events — 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m freestyles and the 4x200m free relay.

Then she would trail one athlete from any country in any sport — Michael Phelps, the 23-time gold medalist who has yet to post video of swimming while balancing a glass on his head.

MORE: Spitz puts Michael Phelps’ career in perspective

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Serena Williams, reclusive amid pandemic, returns to tennis eyeing Grand Slam record

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Serena Williams travels with “like 50 masks” and has been a little bit of a recluse since early March and the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I don’t have full lung capacity, so I’m not sure what would happen to me,” Williams said Saturday, two days before the start of the WTA’s Top Seed Open in Lexington, Ky., her first tournament since playing Fed Cup in early February. “I’m sure I’ll be OK, but I don’t want to find out.”

Williams, 38, has a history of blood clots and pulmonary embolisms. She faced life-threatening complications following her Sept. 1, 2017, childbirth that confined her to a bed for six weeks. She said her daily routine was surgery and that she lost count after the first four.

More recently, Williams enjoyed “every part” of the last six months at home in Florida, her longest time grounded since her teens.

“I’ve been a little neurotic, to an extent,” on health and safety, she said. “Everyone in the Serena bubble is really protected.”

Williams is entered to play next week in Lexington and at consecutive tournaments in New York City later this month — the Western & Southern Open and U.S. Open, the latter starting Aug. 31.

Williams is the highest-ranked player in the Lexington field at No. 9. Others include 2017 U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens, older sister Venus Williams and 16-year-old Coco Gauff.

She has been bidding ever since having daughter Olympia to tie Margaret Court‘s record 24 Grand Slam singles titles, albeit many of Court’s crowns came before the Open Era and, notably at the Australian Open, against small fields lacking the world’s best players. Williams reached the last two Wimbledon and U.S. Open finals, losing all of them.

She showed her seriousness in committing early to this year’s U.S. Open by installing a court at home with the same surface. Three of the top 10 female singles players already said they will skip the U.S. Open due to travel and/or virus concerns, including No. 1 Ash Barty.

“Tennis is naturally a socially distanced sport, so it was kind of easy to go back and just walk on my side of the court and have my hitter walk on his side of the court,” Williams said.

The French Open starts two weeks after the U.S. Open ends. Williams was asked if she will fly to Europe for tournaments this autumn.

“I see myself doing it all, if it happens,” she said.

The Tokyo Olympics are too far away to make plans.

“We’ll have to kind of wait to see what happens in the fall,” she said. “One thing I have learned with this pandemic is don’t plan.”

MORE: Past U.S. Open champions get wild cards

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