David Boudia

David Boudia
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What the U.S. Olympic diving team could look like in 2021

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The last full week of April was supposed to provide clarity for the Olympic diving competition. The FINA World Cup, the last Olympic qualifier, was scheduled to take place at the Olympic host city of Tokyo.

Instead, we’re left with unfinished business. The last Olympic quota spots have yet to be doled out. The U.S. Olympic Trials, originally set for June in Indianapolis, are postponed indefinitely. China’s bid to sweep all of the Olympic diving golds for the first time — denied until 2021.

“This year delay could look a lot better for a lot of the challengers than possibly some of the reigning Chinese,” NBC Olympics analyst Cynthia Potter said. “I just wonder about the veterans from China. [Some of them] have injuries, too. Some of them are worn out.

“I think there are a lot of those people returning [from China] that were maybe looking forward either to not diving the event that they were diving at the Olympics after this summer or retiring altogether.”

Now they all get an extra 12 months. For U.S. divers, it could be a boon once they are able to return to normal training.

It’s more time for David Boudia, the four-time Olympic medalist, to hone his transition from the platform to the springboard. More time for Steele Johnson, who missed nearly a year of competition with two foot surgeries, to decide whether to compete on the platform, springboard or both. More time for synchronized teams to get in sync.

Potter went through where things stand for U.S. Olympic spots in each of the four disciplines:

Men’s Springboard — U.S. qualified two Olympic spots
Boudia won the 2019 U.S. title and placed fifth at the world championships in his first full year after moving off the platform. It was the best finish for the U.S. men’s program at worlds.

“If David’s timing, his strength, his rhythm, all that and that he feels pretty good enough to do these more difficult dives, I don’t see that anybody can beat him if that all comes together,” Potter said.

Michael Hixon is the most experienced U.S. springboard diver on the top level, having placed 10th at the Rio Olympics while making the last three world championships teams. Right in the mix with Boudia and Hixon is Andrew Copabianco, a 20-year-old NCAA champion from Indiana who trains with Hixon. Wild cards: Briadam Herrera, a 1m springboard world team member known for his difficulty, and Johnson, should he enter.

Men’s Platform — U.S. qualified two Olympic spots
David Dinsmore appears the likeliest U.S. Olympic rookie in 2021. Since taking third at the 2016 Olympic Trials, Dinsmore has four wins and a runner-up in national-level meets. His sixth-place finish at the 2017 Worlds was the best individual result for a U.S. man at the meet.

I think international judges like his diving,” Potter said. “He doesn’t have a lot of real obvious flaws.”

Johnson, a Rio Olympian on the platform, returned from injury to place third and fourth at national championships last year. He has the versatility to enter all four events at trials, but he may prioritize the springboard given the medal potential in the synchro event with Boudia. Other hopefuls: Brandon Loschiavo, who outscored Dinsmore in the finals at 2019 Nationals, and Jordan Windle, who Potter said has been on fire since overcoming an injury.

Women’s Springboard — U.S. yet to qualify any Olympic spots
If the U.S. qualifies Olympic spots, look out for Kassidy Cook. Cook, after missing the Rio Olympic final by one spot, did not compete individually on the national level until last December’s Winter Nationals. She won it to earn a spot on the team for the World Cup, where she was to crucially compete to earn the U.S. an Olympic quota spot.

Potter also likes Cook’s synchro partner, Sarah Bacon, who last year became the first U.S. woman to earn an individual Olympic or world medal since 2005. Bacon, overcoming two shoulder surgeries, a concussion,  stress fractures in her back and mental struggles, took silver in the non-Olympic 1m springboard event at worlds.

Also worth noting: Brooke Schultz, who made the last two world championships teams and was third at 2019 Winter Nationals. And Krysta Palmer, a 27-year-old who didn’t start diving until she was 20.

Women’s Platform — U.S qualified two Olympic spots
Potter said the event is deeper domestically than it has been in a long time. All three Rio Olympians — Jessica ParrattoKatrina Young and Amy Cozad Magaña (synchro with Parratto in Rio)– are still competing.

The frontrunner has to be Delaney Schnell, who last year became the first U.S. woman to earn an individual world platform medal since 2005 (a bronze). There’s also Tarrin Gilliland, coming back from injury after competing in synchro at the 2017 World Championships at age 14. And Murphy Bromberg, the 2019 Winter Nationals champion who was third at the most recent Olympic and world championships trials.

MORE: NBCSN Olympic Games Week TV, live stream schedule

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David Boudia, at home instead of in Tokyo, uses Olympic delay to master new event

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Olympic diving champion David Boudia was supposed to be in Tokyo right now. Instead, he’s home in Indiana chasing his three kids, all 5 years and younger.

“It’s a different time for all of us,” Boudia told Mike Tirico on NBCSN’s Lunch Talk Live on Thursday. “But, at the end of the day, this is not about just one person or one athlete or even one nation. This is a global epidemic, so we’re just trying to do what we can at home.”

Boudia, who won the 2012 Olympic platform title, is bidding for his fourth Olympics and his first on the springboard.

After earning two medals in Rio, Boudia took 2017 off from diving to sell homes. In February 2018, he suffered a concussion on a badly missed dive in training off the 10-meter platform, sparking the switch to springboard, a common move for divers late in their careers.

Last year, Boudia won a national title on the springboard. He finished fifth at the world championships. Goal accomplished. Boudia knew he needed to increase his difficulty for the Olympic year.

“It was different. I’m used to jumping off a three-story building, 33 feet up in the air,” Boudia told Tirico. “Transferring to a three-meter springboard, it puts a little spin on things, but the transition was smooth because I dove it at Purdue University for NCAAs. I’ll have to say, Mike, the next 14 months has kind of helped add some motivation where I can get that much better since I just switched to it right after the Rio Games. The more time, the better. Let’s see what it looks like two weeks from now, four weeks from now and then ultimately July 2021.”

Boudia’s next international competition could be the FINA World Cup, which was due to be held next week in Tokyo. When it is rescheduled, it is expected to be the last chance for nations to qualify quota spots for the Olympics. Boudia was expected to enter the synchronized springboard with his Rio Olympic platform partner, Steele Johnson.

Diving typically has an Olympic Trials, where the top two individuals per event can qualify for the Games, plus the top team per synchro event (assuming the U.S. qualifies the quota spots).

Boudia wants to become the first U.S. diver to compete on the platform and the springboard over an Olympic career since Mark Ruiz, who did both in 2000.

“Initially, athletes, you look at this, and it’s daunting,” Boudia said. “You’ve trained extremely hard the past four years. For us to be pushed back another year, it just seems, all that work you’ve done, now you do another 15 months of that. It’s overwhelming at times, but at the same time, at the end of the day, there’s a blessing to it. What are the things in my offseason that I couldn’t get to? What can I do now, planning forward, for the next 14 months that’s going to get me where I want to be in Tokyo 2021?”

MORE: Full Olympic Games Week TV, live stream schedule

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NBCSN’s Olympic Games Week: What to watch on Wednesday

Katie Ledecky
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Michael Phelps, Katie Ledecky, David Boudia and Lilly King will be featured Wednesday night as part of NBCSN’s Olympic Games Week.

After four hours of swimming, coverage will swing to diving, the men’s gymnastics team final and the women’s water polo final.

LIVE STREAM: NBCSN Olympic Games Week Wednesday, 7 p.m.-3 a.m. ET

The evening starts at 7 p.m. ET with women’s swimming. Ledecky won the 200m freestyle, 400m freestyle and 800m freestyle, along with a fourth gold in the 4x200m freestyle relay and silver in the 4x100m freestyle relay.

King won the 100m breaststroke over Yuliya Efimova and wagged a finger at her Russian rival, who had been allowed to compete in Rio despite doping allegations. King didn’t qualify for the 200m breaststroke final but won another gold medal in the 4x100m medley relay. King and Efimova have moved on and have been friendly in the last two world championships.

At 9 p.m., coverage switches to men’s swimming. Phelps, racing in his last Olympics, earned five gold medals in his last Olympics — the 200m butterfly, 200m individual medley, 4x100m freestyle relay, 4x200m freestyle relay and 4x100m medley relay. He also took silver in the 100m butterfly. His final career medal haul: 23 gold medals, three silver and two bronze.

The diving events, starting at 11 p.m., were dominated by China, but U.S. men’s divers claimed three medals. David Boudia, who had gold and bronze in 2012, took bronze in the platform and silver in synchronized platform with Steele Johnson.

In men’s gymnastics, Kohei Uchimura led Japan to gold. The women’s water polo final was a coronation for the dominant U.S. women.

The week’s programming includes more than 100 hours of events from the 2008, 2012 and 2016 Olympics as well as some other selected events. The look at past Olympics continues with classic events and Mary Carillo‘s Summer Olympic Adventures from April 22 to April 26.

All programming is also streaming on NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app.

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NBCSN Olympic Games Week — Wednesday, April 15

Time (ET) Program Events Live Stream
7 p.m. Return to Rio Women’s Swimming STREAM LINK
9 p.m. Return to Rio Men’s Swimming STREAM LINK
11 p.m. Return to Rio Women’s Diving STREAM LINK
12 a.m. Return to Rio Men’s Diving STREAM LINK
1 a.m. Return to Rio Men’s Gymnastics Team Final STREAM LINK
2 a.m. Return to Rio Women’s Water Polo Final STREAM LINK