NEW YORK – David Boudia knows about pressure. He spent the entire Beijing Olympics focusing on his diving competitions – probably a little too much.
He came home empty-handed.
After that experience, he let go of the idea of winning medals above all else, and just focused on doing his best at the sport he picked up 11 years ago because his friend’s father won some free lessons in an auction.
The Purdue graduate came back from London with two medals clanking around his neck, representing a return to the Olympic success that eluded the United States for two cycles since Laura Wilkinson’s surprise gold in Sydney.
“It’s not every day you get to dive in front of 18,000 people,” Boudia said. “It’s crazy. I remember the swing, climbing up out of the pool and hearing the crowd.”
Early on in the London Games, Boudia won a bronze in the synchronized platform event with Nicholas McCrory. Then on Saturday, he upset world champion Qiu Bo of China by less than 2 points to win his gold on the 10-meter platform.
The last American man to win gold in that event? Greg Louganis in 1988, when he was already famous for his accomplishments. Since then, his name has also come up when noting that no American has reached that level.
“What we did in Beijing is we just sat there, and counted,” Boudia said. “All right, 24 hours. All right, 15 hours.”
London was different from the start for many reasons.
“Because of the direction change in USA Diving, we got out of the village,” Boudia said.
The divers went north to train in Sheffield, England, and Boudia said he was able to spend some time relaxing at a house in the countryside with his sisters Shauni and Shaila. Boudia had 10 days between events, and he didn’t want to repeat the slow burn of Beijing by sitting around.
Refreshed, Boudia came back to London with a rested body and mind.
He said he didn’t bother looking at the scoreboard too much. He barely made it out of prelims, qualifying 18th before a strong semifinal moved him up to medal position.
He was tied with Qiu going into the last round, and Qiu was set to go after him.
He scored 102.60 points on a back 2 1/2 somersault with 2 1/2 twists pike worth a 3.6 degree of difficulty. It turned out to be the highest score of any dive in the final once Qiu followed with a 100.80, giving Boudia and the U.S. the gold by 568.65 points to Qiu’s 566.85.