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 Despatie. Mark 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.”
OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!Follow @nzaccardi