Steele Johnson

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U.S. diving roster for world championships finalized at nationals

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Collegians David Dinsmore and Brandon Loschiavo beat out Olympian Steele Johnson for the two U.S. men’s platform spots at July’s world championships.

Dinsmore, a rising Miami senior, had the highest cumulative score at the U.S. Championships in Indianapolis, while Loschiavo, a rising Purdue senior, was second while earning the national title with the top tally in Sunday’s final.

Johnson, coming back from two foot surgeries in the last eight months, ended up third, 41.95 points behind Loschiavo.

Johnson is still going to worlds in South Korea with former Purdue teammate Ben Bramley in the synchronized platform. Johnson is an Olympic silver medalist in that event with David Boudia, who left the platform for the springboard and won the national title on that event Saturday.

Also Sunday, Brooke Schultz and Sarah Bacon earned world spots in the women’s springboard, the one event this weekend without an Olympian in the field. Schultz won the previous world championships trials in 2017 and placed 25th at those worlds. Bacon, a rising Minnesota senior, is going to her first worlds.

Divers will compete at worlds for themselves but also to earn Olympic quota spots for the U.S.

U.S. roster for World Diving Championships
Women
Synchronized Springboard — Alison Gibson/Krysta Palmer
Synchronized Platform — Murphy Bromberg/Katrina Young (Olympian)
1m Springboard (Not an Olympic event) — Sarah Bacon, Maria Coburn
3m Springboard — Brooke Schultz, Sarah Bacon
Platform — Amy Cozad Magana (Olympian), Delaney Schnell

Men
Synchronized Springboard — Andrew Capobianco/MIchael Hixon (Olympian)
Synchronized Platform — Ben Bramley/Steele Johnson (Olympian)
1m Springboard (Not an Olympic event) — Briadam Herrera, Michael Hixon (Olympian)
3m Springboard — Michael Hixon (Olympian), David Boudia (Olympian)
Platform — David Dinsmore, Brandon Loschiavo

Mixed (Not Olympic events)
Synchronized Springboard — Briadam Herrera/Lauren Reedy
Synchronized Platform — Zach Cooper/Olivia Rosendahl

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Steele Johnson returns to diving after difficult year out of competition

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When Olympic silver medalist Steele Johnson mounts the 10-meter platform on Tuesday and dives off the equivalent of a three-story building, he will be doing so in competition for the first time in nearly a year and following two foot surgeries.

“I don’t have much expectations for this week,” he said.

Johnson promises not to look at his scores during the U.S. Diving Championships, which will determine the team for July’s world championships. He vows not to watch his competitors.

“I perform best when I have no idea where I’m at,” Johnson said, noting he didn’t know whether he and David Boudia were in medal contention in the Rio Olympic synchronized platform until their last dive. “I perform my worst when I’m really thinking about the scores I need to get to pass someone else, or I’m worrying about what the other divers are going.”

These nationals (TV schedule here) will be familiar and foreign for Johnson, who recently decided to forego his last season at Purdue to turn professional. This week’s meet is in Indianapolis, just an hour’s drive down Interstate 65 from West Lafayette.

But Johnson will not be competing with Boudia in Tuesday’s synchro platform. Boudia, a four-time Olympic medalist, switched to the springboard after a February 2018 concussion. Johnson hopes to reunite with Boudia in synchro springboard for a Tokyo 2020 run, but he’s not ready to add that event yet.

Johnson feels fortunate to be competing at all. In February 2015, a stress fracture was found in his right foot. The pain was manageable, so he put off potential surgery. By September 2018, he would go under the knife, finding a new, more serious stress fracture had developed.

Four months after the surgery, Johnson still couldn’t put any weight on the foot. It had healed completely, but inserted screws were causing inflammation. The screws were removed 15 weeks ago in a follow-up procedure. Johnson was forced to miss all of what would have been his final NCAA campaign.

“It turned out to be the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” said Johnson, who at 12 years old ripped his head in half hitting the platform on a reverse three-and-a-half somersault, which led to some memory problems. “I’ve never had something so adverse … just to be able to stand on my feet again.”

He still can’t run on the foot, but he’s been diving his competition list for two weeks and with synchro partner Ben Bramley for a week and a half.

“Not the most time on my feet so far,” Johnson said, “but that being said, back on 10-meter and into competition form a lot quicker than anticipated.”

Johnson believes he can contend for one of two individual platform spots on the world team, decided Friday and Sunday, even though he has less difficult dives than the favorites.

“The Olympics aren’t this year, so my goal was, if I can just compete at this nationals, see where the rest of the field was at, see what I need to work on, that would be good enough for me,” he said.

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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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