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Sam Dorman, Olympic medalist diver, retires

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Diver Sam Dorman, a Rio Olympic synchronized springboard silver medalist, announced his retirement in an online letter Wednesday.

“After multiple injuries throughout 19 years of competing, subsequent surgeries and countless hours of rehab, I would still do it all over again,” wrote the 27-year-old Dorman, who battled a back injury and underwent surgery in 2017, then came back to finish fifth at the FINA World Cup with Olympic partner Michael Hixon in June. “At this point in my life, I know my body can no longer withstand the extreme intensity of training and perfection that this sport demands.”

Dorman and Hixon had the best U.S. Olympic men’s springboard result in 24 years at the Rio Games, beating the dominant Chinese for silver with the highest-scoring dive of the competition in the last round. Brits Chris Mears and Jack Laugher edged Dorman and Hixon for gold by 4.11 points.

Dorman called Hixon his “right-hand man” in Wednesday’s letter.

“You set the standard for a disciplined work ethic and demanded a non-negotiable level of excellence in every training session,” Dorman wrote. “I could not have asked for a better Olympic teammate.”

Dorman made more headlines after Rio for getting a matching Olympic rings tattoo with golfer Rickie Fowler.

Dorman also finished sixth and seventh in synchro springboard at the last two world championships and was third in the individual springboard at the 2016 Olympic Trials, where the top two earned Rio spots.

Dorman and Hixon beat 2012 Olympic bronze medalists Troy Dumais and Kristian Ipsen at those trials, which was their first competition since pairing up that spring.

Dorman won one NCAA title at Miami, where he earned a mechanical engineering degree in 2015.

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MORE: David Boudia changes diving events after concussion

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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MORE: Relive Greg Louganis diving board accident on 30th anniversary

Relive Greg Louganis’ diving board accident on 30th anniversary

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Before the 1996 Olympics, an international panel of journalists selected one outstanding Olympian from each previous Summer Games.

Greg Louganis was chosen from Seoul 1988.

Wednesday marks 30 years since Louganis smacked his head on the springboard in the preliminary round of those Olympics, though he still qualified for the next day’s final and earned gold.

“After hitting my head on the springboard, I was really scared,” Louganis said in an NBC interview at prelims, after receiving four stitches and performing two more dives. “My concern was I didn’t know how bad the injury was. Fortunately, it was just a minor cut. … Those kinds of things are bad to look at [laugh].”

That wasn’t the whole story.

Louganis revealed seven years later, after retiring, that he had been HIV positive at the time of the Seoul Olympics.

His coach, Ron O’Brien, one of the few who knew, smuggled the medication into Seoul, Louganis said, because he wouldn’t have been allowed in if it was known he was HIV positive.

Louganis revisited the incident for an NBC profile ahead of the 1996 Atlanta Games.

“I heard this big, hollow thud, and then I went crashing into the water,” Louganis said. “Then I realized that was my head that just hit the board. My first feelings were embarrassment, and I was trying to figure out how to get out of the pool without anybody seeing me. And then I got scared because I knew I was HIV positive. Had I done it all over again, I would have told the doctor of my HIV status. That’s the only person that really needed to know.”

Louganis remains one of just two divers to sweep the springboard and platform at multiple Olympics, along with countrywoman Pat McCormick.

NBC Olympic Research contributed to this report.

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