Ready for Rio: The Defending Champions

Team USA

At the London 2012 Olympic Games, Team USA athletes won 46 events. This translated to 127 different U.S. athletes coming home with gold medals in their pockets — and 10 U.S. Olympians had more than just one.

For diver David Boudia, it was the culmination of a dream that began in 1996 while he watched the Opening Ceremony of the Atlanta Olympic Games on TV. At the time, he was a 7-year-old gymnast. Little did he know that he would win his Olympic gold medal in men’s 10-meter platform diving, a sport he discovered at age 11 because he was burned out on gymnastics. For someone who wanted to defy gravity and be acrobatic, it was the perfect fit.

But at the 2012 London Games, Boudia’s medal chances in men’s platform looked grim. He barely advanced from the prelims. Then in a tight battle in the final with China’s Qiu Bo, the reigning world champion, Boudia only knew that it was close.

After his last dive, Boudia saw his name atop the scoreboard — and it stayed there after Qiu Bo’s last dive. He still didn’t understand what it meant until he saw people in (happy) tears around him.

“It’s hard to fathom when a dream is accomplished like being an Olympic champion because you’ve worked so hard through the years,” Boudia said by phone from his home in Indiana. “It finally happens, you’re kind of in disbelief.”

He took off three months after the London Games, married his girlfriend Sonnie, and “settled down to life.” When he returned to competition in 2013, he struggled. What was the point, he wondered? He had already won the Olympic Games.

But he had no intention of retiring and realized that diving provided a living for himself and his family. It also provided discipline to his life, and he loved it.

“As Olympians, we’re so turbo in our mindset, it’s just go, go, go,” he said. “We forget why we do it sometimes.”

At the 2013 FINA World Championships last July, he became the first American male since 1986 to medal in 10-meter platform at back-to-back world championships when he took silver. Then at the 2014 FINA Diving World Series in March, he claimed a bronze medal in the platform.

Now 25, he is competing in springboard as well as platform diving and wants to compete in three events at the 2016 Olympic Games — although which ones he does not know yet.

But he does know this: “I definitely know that I’m going back to defend that title in the platform event.”

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