Through 15 rounds of dives this week, there was little to no question that one of the nation’s most decorated divers, David Boudia, would make a record-tying fourth U.S. Olympic team.
An Olympic champion in the individual 10-meter platform event in 2012, Boudia had transitioned down to the 3-meter springboard in 2017 and was planning to compete in Tokyo in that event.
That changed when the four-time Olympic medalist scored 40.8 points on his fourth of six dives in Sunday’s final and dropped from first to third at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Indianapolis.
Boudia then fell to fifth in the penultimate round before sliding back up to third, but he was a mere 4.45 points out from one of two available Olympic spots.
“This was, by far, not my best competition,” the 32-year-old father of three noted to USA Diving.
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It was instead 17-year-old Tyler Downs who won the event and will make his Olympic debut next month.
Downs was handed a ring — with the Olympic rings on it — that belonged to Boudia once he secured his spot on the team. Steele Johnson, 2016 Olympic synchro silver medalist with Boudia, was the one to hand the ring to Downs while Boudia was waiting to perform his final dive.
“I think he’s a legend,” Downs, who turns 18 four days before next month’s Opening Ceremony, said of Boudia. “He won gold in London. Three Olympic Games. He’s an amazing person as well, really great mentor.”
Prior to this week’s competition, Boudia had not ruled out a run at the Paris 2024 Olympics.
Downs totaled 1333.75 points between the prelims, semifinal and final. He was followed by Andrew Capobianco, who finished with 1319.4 points.
The two were unlikely contenders entering the final, with Down sitting fourth and Capobianco in sixth. They worked their way up the rankings and were 1-2 after the fourth round, which they held on to until the end.
“Andrew has battled back and stepped up to the occasion, and he got the job done,” Boudia said. “For Tyler Downs, I think everyone in this building had a tear for him, and he has an exciting future and I’m super proud of him.”
Downs, who said he was at a loss for words after the competition, far exceeded his own expectations by finishing fifth in the individual platform final on Saturday and winning springboard the following day.
“My whole team, my mom, my grandma, my sister all came to support me, and I wanted to dive my best and put on a show,” Downs said.
The Olympics will mark just the second senior-level international meet of Downs’ young diving career. He is a multi-time junior national champion on both the 1- and 3-meter springboard events, with a win on the platform as well.
Downs won the junior world championship silver medal on 1-meter in 2018.
Capobianco’s ticket to Tokyo was already confirmed when he won the synchronized springboard on Friday with 2016 Olympic silver medalist Michael Hixon, but he was eager to compete in both events.
“It means a lot,” the 20-year-old said. “I definitely had to fight through this week. … I’m just really excited.”
Hixon, who competed in both events in Rio, was fourth with a 1309.65 total.
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