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David Boudia’s return highlights diving nationals, world spots at stake

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Four-time Olympic medalist David Boudia‘s bid to make the world championships team after two years off leads the storylines at the U.S. Diving Championships, which begin Sunday in Indianapolis.

Synchronized events run from Sunday through Tuesday. Individual events begin Wednesday. NBCSN airs the men’s springboard final on May 25 at 12:30 p.m. ET. NBC has the women’s platform final on May 25 at 2 p.m.

The top synchro team per event by cumulative scores (prelims plus finals) makes July’s world championships in Gwangju, South Korea. The top two individual divers per event make worlds, also by cumulative scores (prelims plus semis plus finals).

Finals Schedule
Sunday (synchro): Mixed springboard, mixed platform
Monday (synchro): Women’s platform, men’s springboard
Tuesday (synchro): Women’s springboard, men’s platform
Wednesday: Men’s, women’s 1m springboard
Saturday: Men’s 3m springboard, women’s platform
Sunday: Men’s platform, women’s 3m springboard

Entry Lists

Individual Olympic Event Previews
Men’s 3m Springboard
Boudia, whose 72 career Olympic dives all came off the platform, switched to the more forgiving springboard after a February 2018 concussion. He considered retiring after a third Olympics in Rio, where he earned synchro silver and individual bronze. Boudia, now 30, even began a real-estate job in Indiana. But the father of three announced a diving comeback in September 2017, saying he didn’t want to have any “what ifs” in his late 30s.

No doubting Boudia is a favorite to make the world team in his new event. He beat Rio springboard Olympian Michael Hixon at the 2018 Winter Trials and is tied with Hixon and NCAA champion Andrew Capobianco with the highest registered degree of difficulty for next week. Absent is Kristian Ipsen, who retired after placing fifth in Rio.

Women’s Platform
The most wide-open individual event with more than a handful who could become national champion. The most notable are Olympians Jessica ParrattoKatrina Young and Amy Magaña (née Cozad). But the favorite could be Texas’ Murphy Bromberg, who won the NCAA title by nearly 60 points in March. Bromberg was an agonizing third at Olympic and world trials in 2013, 2015 and 2016, so she’s still seeking her first individual global championship berth.

A notable absence from nationals is Laura Wilkinson, the 2000 Olympic champ who, at age 41, has been training in hopes of a possible comeback. She underwent cervical fusion surgery in her neck the day after Christmas and returned to dive practice in early spring, but only off the springboard at first.

Men’s Platform
Boudia dominated this event for a decade. Once he left the platform, David Dinsmore ascended in the sport’s marquee event from his third-place finish at the 2016 Olympic Trials as a 19-year-old. Dinsmore, then a Miami freshman, won the 2017 NCAA title (beating Olympic synchro silver medalist Steele Johnson) and the 2017 world trials. He was also the lone U.S. individual medalist at the biggest international meet of 2018, the World Cup in Wuhan, China.

Johnson would normally be a clear favorite to make the world team, but he’s coming off foot surgeries in September and February and hasn’t gotten his full degree of difficulty back (1.4 points behind Dinsmore and Brandon Loschiavo). Johnson, whose goal after the February operation was to make it back for nationals, has been diving his competition list in practice for two weeks.

Women’s 3m Springboard
The one event without an Olympian in the field. Look out for Brooke Schultz and Krysta Palmer, who went one-two at the 2017 World trials. Schultz has been earmarked for success for nearly a decade, competing at her first senior nationals at age 12 and winning the NCAA title as a freshman at Arkansas, where she’s coached by her dad.

Palmer is a different story. She did not start diving until age 20, after a gymnastics career ended due to major knee injuries. Leading up to the 2016 Olympic Trials, Palmer was training platform in Reno, Nev., where there was no platform. She sometimes had to fly to Palo Alto, Calif., to practice. She’s since switched to springboard and finished in the top four in all four national-level meets.

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VIDEO: Relive Greg Louganis diving board accident on 30th anniversary

Transgender track and field athletes now face same standard that has kept out Caster Semenya

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Transgender athletes will have to reduce their testosterone level to the same level applied to Caster Semenya and other athletes with Differences of Sex Development (DSD), under a new policy enacted by World Athletics (formerly the IAAF).

As with DSD athletes, the threshold for middle-distance runners has been lowered from 10 nanomoles per liter to 5.

“These Regulations have been drafted to align with the Eligibility Regulations for the Female Classification (Athletes with Differences of Sex Development) and include updates to reflect current medical standards and the legal framework,” World Athletics said in announcing the latest IAAF Council decisions.

The IAAF claimed a similar basis in medical standards last year when it announced its updated policy on DSD athletes: “No female would have serum levels of natural testosterone at 5 nmol/L or above unless they have DSD or a tumour.”

Semenya, a two-time Olympic champion at 800 meters, challenged that limit in the Court of Arbitration for Sport but lost her case in May. Given a brief reprieve by a Swiss court, she ran the fastest 800-meter time of the year (1:54.98), but a higher court overruled her appeal. She did not compete in the recent world championships.

MORE: Semenya laments lack of support

Another athlete affected by the DSD policy, 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Margaret Wambui, told the Olympic Channel she was struggling to find a new direction after the rule was passed.

“It affected me a lot,” Wambui said. “I didn’t want to train or do anything. …

“Caster has fought for us. She has done her level best. She has tried, but we failed.”

VIDEO: Wambui: “No one chose to be born the way they are”

Transgender athletes have not yet been prominent in international track and field, though controversies have arisen at other levels, particularly in a Connecticut case in which high school athletes filed a Title IX complaint after losing to transgender athletes. The athletes who filed the claim said they were potentially at a disadvantage in terms of earning college scholarships.

The new World Athletics policy insists that its stipulations for transgender athletes are actually generous. “The decision limit also takes into consideration that, for clinical purposes, the Endocrine Society Clinical Practice Guideline for Endocrine Treatment of Gender-Dysphoric/Gender-Incongruent Persons recommends that transgender females should have serum testosterone levels of less than 50 ng/dL (i.e. approximately 1.7 nmol/L).”

But while DSD and transgender athletes face different issues, Semenya and other DSD athletes have set a precedent by withdrawing from competition rather than bring their levels down to the 5 nmol/L standard. In CAS proceedings, Semenya said she experienced regular fevers, night sweats, significant weight gain and constant abdominal pain while taking medication to meet the previous standard of 10 nmol/L.

The International Olympic Committee also put a 10 nmol/L limit in place for both transgender and DSD athletes in 2015. Some athletes have complained that transgender athletes still have an unfair advantage under that policy.

The World Athletics policy also addresses transgender men, granting them permission to take regulated testosterone supplements to bring levels within a typical range for men.

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U.S. men’s volleyball extends medal streak with bronze in World Cup

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With its medal-winning streak in jeopardy, the defending champion U.S. men’s volleyball team beat Egypt 22-25, 25-16, 25-14, 25-13 on Tuesday in Hiroshima, Japan. Poland beat Iran later in the day to slip past the U.S. for silver behind unbeaten Brazil.

The experienced U.S. men have claimed a medal in the last four major international tournaments — gold in the 2015 World Cup, bronze in the 2016 Olympics, bronze in the 2018 world championships and bronze in this year’s World Cup. The men also placed second in the 2019 Nations League and third in the first Nations League in 2018, though the team failed to medal in the last two editions of the World League in 2016 and 2017.

Most importantly for next year, the U.S. men swept their Olympic qualification tournament in August.

Micah Christenson was named best setter of the tournament, as he was in the 2015 tournament and in the 2018 world championships. Middle blocker Max Holt was also named to the tournament “Dream Team.

VIDEO: U.S.-Egypt highlights

The U.S. team’s World Cup started with a five-set loss to Argentina, which went on to finish fifth. The U.S. rebounded to beat Italy, world champion Poland, host Japan, Tunisia and Iran before losing to eventual champion Brazil. Border rival Canada took the U.S. to five sets, but sweeps against Australia and Brazil put the team in position to clinch its medal.

Heading into next year’s Olympics, the U.S. team has several internationally accomplished players. In addition to Christenson’s multiple awards, Matt Anderson was named the best opposite hitter in the world championship and Nations League in 2018, and Aaron Russell was named to the Dream Team in the 2016 Olympics. Russell, playing for Italian team Trentino, also was named MVP of the World Club Championship in December.

The U.S. women’s team also won two medals this year gold in the Nations League, silver in the World Cup and swept its own qualification tournament.

This success comes despite the lack of a professional league in the United States. USA volleyball announced last week it has processed paperwork for 257 women and 82 men to play in foreign leagues for the 2019-20, with more players to follow.

The World Cup is contested every four years, the year before the Olympics. The world championship takes place in even non-Olympic years. Qualification for the World Cup is more difficult — only 12 teams reach the tournament, while 24 teams take part in the world championship. 

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