David Boudia

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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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David Boudia changes diving events after concussion

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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 DespatieMark 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.”

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David Boudia’s diving comeback delayed by concussion

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Four-time Olympic diving medalist David Boudia is missing this week’s national championships and next month’s FINA World Cup, the biggest competition of the year, due to a concussion suffered in a crash off the 10m platform.

“Since February I’ve been struggling with dizziness, blackouts, numbness, and fatigue which I assumed resulted from high anxiety from a crash I had from 10m (Having struggled with high anxiety in the past I choose to push through it and chalked it to that),” was posted on Boudia’s social media Monday. “After going to our team physician, the crash resulted in a concussion and was not resolving due to a lack of recovery (continuing to dive on my head). Unfortunately, this means that I will be out of competition for our major events (National Championship & World Cup) because of the time off to recover. Hard to swallow that having been training for almost a year to get back to elite competition which mean I get to choose to be content with the end goal in mind and push on towards #tokyo2020 and more importantly trusting in the Lord’s plan for my pursuit toward diving and giving up my own plans.”

Boudia, 29, has not competed since taking individual bronze and synchronized silver on the platform in Rio. He also earned individual gold and synchro bronze in 2012.

He considered retirement after his third Olympics but announced in September he planned to return to competition this year after taking the 2017 season off, missing the world championships for the first time in a senior career that dates to 2005.

“I just missed the relationships that I had at the pool, that I had with the diving community,” Boudia said then in West Lafayette, Ind., where he trains at Purdue University. “I don’t want to be 35, 40 years old and say what if I would have given it another shot? Kind of too late at that point.”

Boudia, after never taking more than three months away from diving since 2000, turned to real estate after the Rio Games.

“If you would have asked me in 2015 if I was done [after Rio], I would have said yes; I was drained,” Boudia said in September. “One of the big reasons, apart from being exhausted mentally, I just felt like [diving] wasn’t what I was supposed to do. You have all the people saying, oh, you’re getting older. You’re 28. You need to start retiring, thinking about what you’re going to do next in life. It’s fun banter. My teammates would call me grandpa. In my mind, I was thinking, maybe it’s time for me to be done in the sport. I let it simmer.”

Boudia’s platform gold in 2012 ended a medal drought for U.S. divers in individual events since Laura Wilkinson‘s surprise Sydney 2000 title.

Boudia is the only U.S. male diver to top the Olympic platform since Greg Louganis, who swept the springboard and platform in 1984 and 1988.

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Since February I’ve been struggling with dizziness, blackouts, numbness, and fatigue which I assumed resulted from high anxiety from a crash I had from 10m (Having struggled with high anxiety in the past I choose to push through it and chalked it to that) – after going to our team physician, the crash resulted in a concussion and was not resolving due to a lack of recovery (continuing to dive on my head). Unfortunately, this means that I will be out of competition for our major events (National Championship & World Cup) because of the time off to recover. Hard to swallow that having been training for almost a year to get back to elite competition which mean I get to choose to be content with the end goal in mind and push on towards #tokyo2020 and more importantly trusting in the Lord’s plan for my pursuit toward diving and giving up my own plans.

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