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David Boudia and Steele Johnson secured their berth in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games with a dominant performance in synchronized men’s synchronized 10-meter platform platform diving Thursday evening at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Diving at the IU Natatorium in Indianapolis.
The duo emerged from Tuesday’s semifinal round with 835.56 points, 124.98 ahead of the closest competition. They continued to pad that lead throughout Thursday evening, ending up with 1,326.57 points, 238.02 ahead of Ryan Hawkins and Toby Stanley.
Boudia won the bronze medal with then-partner Nick McCrory at the London 2012 Olympic Games. When McCrory retired after London to pursue medical school studies, Boudia and Johnson joined forces and have shown they have every intention to log a podium finish in Rio. Their first international competition together, the 2014 World Cup, resulted in a bronze medal. They have been rolling ever since, racking up a total of six top-five finishes, including a silver and two bronze medals in World Cup and World Series competition and a fifth-place finish at the 2015 world championships.
Making his third trip to the Olympic Games, Boudia, 27, placed fifth in synchronized platform at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games with Thomas Finchum before his bronze-medal result in London. He is the reigning gold medalist in individual platform after placing sixth in Beijing. With an individual silver medal at the last three world championships, Boudia is the first American to medal at three consecutive worlds since Greg Louganis. He has won 20 national championships and was named USA Diving Athlete of the Year six times. He won six NCAA titles diving for Purdue University, where he received a communications degree in 2013. Since winning his two medals in London, Boudia has added even better prizes: He married his wife Sonnie in October 2012 and welcomed their first child, a daughter named Dakoda, in September 2014.
Johnson, who turned 20 a week ago, will make his Olympic debut in Rio. A seven-time national team member, he is a 10-time national champion. The 2015 NCAA platform and 1-meter champion as a freshman at Purdue, he took an Olympic practice waiver for the 2015-16 season to focus on training for Rio.
The partners find themselves in the curious position of battling each other for first place in the individual platform competition at Olympic Trials. Boudia leads the field going into the finals with 1,007.25 points, 45.45 ahead of Johnson’s 961.80. David Dinsmore is in third place with 953.90, followed by a 186-point drop to Zachary Cooper in fourth place. The top two athletes will earn a spot on the Olympic team. The finals in men’s individual platform will take place Sunday evening.
Boudia and Johnson are the fifth and sixth members of the 2016 U.S. Olympic Diving Team, joining women’s synchronized platform divers Jessica Parrotto and Amy Cozad, and men’s synchronized springboard divers Sam Dorman and Michael Hixon, who earned their spots Wednesday evening.
Professional athletes don’t get to the top by accident. It takes superhuman levels of time, dedication, and focus—and that includes paying attention to what they put in their bellies. In this series, GQ takes a look at what pro athletes in different sports eat on a daily basis to perform at their best. Here’s a look at the low-calorie diet of Olympian David Boudia.
Diving is hard. It’s also probably doesn’t involve what you think it does. “I think nine times out of 10 people confuse this with swimming,” says David Boudia. Diving, as its name might suggest, has very little to do with swimming. “All I have to do is doggy paddle 10 feet to the edge of the pool. I jump, try to do flips, and go into the water with little splash.”
On top of all the ordinary discipline you need to be a top athlete, to be a great diver you need to get over being hangry. When preparing for competition, Boudia eats as few as 1,800 calories a day—a sharp drop from what most pro athletes eat. Diving is obviously not as endurance-heavy as something like soccer, but it’s not even as drawn out as a tennis match. In competition, your game is over in moments. “I don’t burn a lot of calories in the pool. I’m burning most of my calories climbing up about 50 stairs. I walk up, dive, walk up, dive, maybe 80 times a practice.”
At the moment, Boudia and his improbably named diving partner, Steele Johnson, are killing it at the Olympic trials, making strong performances in the run up to Rio. Divers need a lot of explosive power from their legs, so training deals pretty heavily with squats, plyometrics, core work, and of course working out arms so they don’t look out of proportion and Velociraptor-ish.
But also, you don’t want to look big. Divers are notoriously fit, possibly the most aesthetically pleasing athletes who don’t have to be professionally good-looking, but the need for low bodyfat is bigger than just vanity. Feeling bloated while trying to perform, looking down at the water and feeling like all you can see is your inflated gut, can wreck a dive. So when it’s competition time, Boudia drops about 15 pounds, down to 160 at the moment. And since, as we’ve established, there’s not a ton of cardio built into diving, dieting is a big deal.
“My wife is a dietician,” says Boudia, “and there was a learning curve for a little while because she was used to working with athletes who needed tons of calories. But we figured out something that works.” One part of the something that works is a monster smoothie at the start of the day, noteworthy because it’s the one time during the day Boudia actually feels full. Another facet is three small lunches spread over the course of the day: chips and salsa, carrots and hummus, mostly things that you would put in a Ziploc bag in a child’s lunchbox. Which should make packing and meal planning easy for the apparently inevitable trip to Brazil that Boudia will be taking next month.
Protein pancake (egg whites, oats, yogurt, cinnamon, blueberries)
Smoothie with strawberries, blueberries, oats, spinach, peanut butter protein powder, Zico coconut water
Apple slices with peanut butter
Turkey slices rolled with cheese
Carrots and hummus
Barbecue chicken and polenta, with sliced avocado, and peaches