Brandon Loschiavo dominated the men’s individual platform competition all week at the U.S. Olympic Diving Trials, leading through the prelims, semifinal and Saturday’s final, though he never took advantage of that cushion.
“I pretended like I was behind,” Loschiavo told NBC reporter Kelli Stavast. “I just had to stay focused on the task at hand and just keep pushing.”
The strategy worked as Loschiavo earned a spot on his first Olympic team with a total of 1421 points in Indianapolis.
The 24-year-old had earned the U.S. its first men’s platform spot at the Tokyo Olympics when he finished eighth at the 2019 World Championships and made sure he was the one to fill it by winning Trials.
This year marked the first Olympic Trials for the 2021 NCAA champion, who graduated from Purdue last month. He broke the scaphoid in his left wrist during a meet in 2015 and was given the option then to continue diving through excruciating pain or have a screw implanted in his wrist.
Loschiavo chose the latter, and the recovery took a year and a half.
“It’s surreal,” Loschiavo said of making the Olympic team. “It’s a beautiful journey, I went through a lot of ups and downs and I had a lot of people back home and here who have pushed me. I’m just really appreciative of everyone that’s pushed me.”
He will be joined in Tokyo by close friend Jordan Windle, who was second throughout the meet, finishing with 1401.4 points.
Windle won the 2019 NCAA title for Texas and finished second to Loschiavo at this season’s NCAAs.
Windle was in qualifying position entering the final, but he widened his gap over the rest of the field when he scored five 10s and two 9.5s on his first dive, which commentator Ted Robinson called the “dive of the week.”
“It just proved that with a positive attitude and continuing to smile, anything can happen,” Windle said of the dive.
Unlike Loschiavo, this was the third Olympic Trials for Windle.
As a 13-year-old, Windle was sixth in the synchro event with Zach Cooper.
Four years later, he was fourth in the individual event.
Now 22, Windle achieved a dream 15 years in the making.
“It makes me feel really good knowing that I made my family proud and my team proud,” he said. “Pushing through a lot of pain and a lot of obstacles has been quite the journey, but in the end it worked out and I couldn’t be more happy.”
Windle’s journey began in Cambodia, where he was born. His birth parents died when he was a year old, and he was placed in an orphanage in the capital city Phnom Penh.
Jerry Windle, an American who had reportedly struggled to adopt in the U.S. as a single, gay man, adopted Jordan when he was 18 months old and helped nurse him back to health from malnutrition, scabies, intestinal parasites and severe infections.
When Windle was 7, he attended a summer camp where he was spotted by Tim O’Brien, the son of Hall of Famer diving coach Ron O’Brien, who quickly noticed his knack for the sport. Jerry then enrolled his son in the Fort Lauderdale Diving program.
He has since won four U.S. senior titles, the first coming in 2014.
Jerry and Jordan Windle celebrated their close bond and unique story in 2011 when they co-authored the children’s book “An Orphan No More: The True Story of a Boy.” Jordan returned to Cambodia in 2016 for the first time, performing diving exhibitions for children.
“It’s everything,” Windle said of his father’s support. “I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for him, his love and support. He’s always there for me, calling me. I’d give him anything, and I’m sure he’d do the same.”
Windle has been mentored by four-time Olympic champion Greg Louganis, one of Ron O’Brien’s best known pupils, since the start of his career, and he intends to use Louganis’ advice when he competes in Tokyo in August.
“Just like Greg Louganis taught me since the beginning to always have fun and treat it like a sport’s supposed to be – go out there and be a competitor – and that’s what I intend to do,” he said.
After their last dives, Loschiavo and Windle were handed Olympic rings jewelry by Steele Johnson and David Boudia, respectively, who represented the U.S. in both individual and synchronized platform at the Rio 2016 Olympics. The U.S. failed to earn a spot in synchro platform for Tokyo, the first time that has happened since synchronized diving events entered the Olympics in 2000.
David Dinsmore missed making the Olympic team by one spot, 122.9 points shy of Windle, just as he had in 2016 behind Boudia and Johnson.
After the 2016 Trials, Dinsmore went on to win the 2017 NCAA title for Miami, four of the five U.S. championship competitions he entered in a three-year period and bronze at the 2018 World Cup.
Fourteen-year-old phenom Joshua Hedberg was fourth with a total of 1235.7.
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