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David Boudia changes diving events after concussion

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David Boudia says he has dived off the 10-meter platform in competition for the last time.

“Definitely done,” he said.

But Boudia will still go for a fourth Olympics in 2020 — on the three-meter springboard instead.

Boudia, the 2012 Olympic platform champion and four-time medalist, switched after returning to training in early summer from a February concussion.

The 29-year-old said he just about belly-flopped in a February crashed dive in platform practice, the worst he had missed a dive in more than a decade. His head and stomach hit the water first, and he took most of the next week off while also dealing with sinus issues.

It wasn’t until April that Boudia stopped training on the platform altogether, though, and saw a doctor after struggling with dizziness, blackouts, numbness and fatigue.

Boudia was told he had not taken enough time off after the February crash, so he rested for six weeks and consulted with longtime coach Adam Soldati. They decided to leave the platform in his past after three Olympics and 14 years.

Part of it was the anxiety Boudia, married with two daughters, had climbing the equivalent of three stories and diving again after the crash. Part of it was physical. It’s easier to recover from practice on the springboard than on the platform, and at 29, Boudia is in the latter part of his career.

“I was just mentally checked out of platform,” Boudia said, summarizing. “We needed to freshen up. We just needed a turn in our training.”

Boudia competed last week for the first time since the Rio Olympics and on the springboard for the first time in four years. He placed second at a Grand Prix event in Australia that lacked a springboard medalist from the most recent Olympics, world championships or FINA World Cup.

He’s next headed to Atlanta for Winter Nationals in December.

As the Olympic Trials get closer, Boudia hopes to add synchronized springboard. The plan is to “give it a whirl” with 2016 Olympic silver-medal synchro platform partner Steele Johnson once Johnson returns from foot surgery in 2019.

Other high-profile divers shed platform late in their careers, such as Russian Dmitry Sautin and Canadian Alexandre DespatieMark Ruiz was the last American to compete individually at the Olympics in both springboard and platform, doing so in the same Games at Sydney 2000.

Boudia considered the switch at this point in the last Olympic cycle. In December 2014, he broke his right foot slipping off the board in practice. Early in 2015, Boudia scrapped the springboard.

“Going into the Rio Games, I think that I would be able to do well on three events [both platform events and individual springboard], but I don’t think I could have done great,” he said. “We invested all of our time in those two events on platform so that we could get the best results.”

That led to Boudia earning medals in both of his Olympic events for a second straight Games, the synchro silver and individual bronze in Brazil. Boudia then considered retiring while taking a year off after Rio. His career may end in Tokyo in two years.

“If it’s looking like this, yes [2020 will be the last Olympics], as far as the toll it takes,” he said with an exhale. “I’m going to be 31 at this next Olympic Games, but we’ll get through the next two years and figure what the future looks like.”

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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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