The United States has run away with the medal lead at the 2016 Rio Olympics, extending their total to 100 as of Friday morning. With the final weekend of the Games coming up, a former gold medalist can help the U.S. add to their dominance.
USA diver David Boudia has already medaled in Rio, winning the silver medal in the men’s synchronized 10-meter platform with his partner, Steele Johnson. But now it’s Boudia’s turn to try to finish in first place on his own, something he did four years ago in London.
Boudia, 27, became the first American male diver to take home gold in 20 years when he won the men’s 10-meter platform in London. But just because he experienced such success in the last Olympics, Boudia is well aware that repeating as a gold medalist won’t be easy.
“It definitely helps getting back in the competition knowing that you do have that Olympic champion title under your name. But at the same time, when it comes down to the Olympic Games, it’s anyone‘s game in my field in particular,” Boudia told International Business Times before he headed to Rio, promoting Uncrustables’ #Unstoppable Olympic campaign. “I have a big job to do. There is some pressure, but if I do what I’ve been doing in training, then I should be able to contend.”
Despite what Boudia did in London, he’s not favored to win gold in Rio. In fact, the latest betting odds suggest that he could have a tough time winning any medal in the event.
The preliminary round for the men’s 10m platform begins on Friday afternoon with 28 competitors. The semifinal and final are set for Saturday, where China’s Chen Aisen is the favorite to finish in first. Aisen won gold in the synchronized 10m platform along with Lin Yue.
Boudia’s top competition also includes China’s Qui Bo and Great Britain’s Tom Daley, who won the silver and bronze medals, respectively, in 2012. Domonic Bedggood and James Connor from Australia have a chance to medal, as well.
“Any given day I can win the gold medal, and the next day have a totally off meet and be fifth place,” Boudia said. “And so I think knowing that, it’s a little bit different when it comes to my sport in particular. I would say I want to win gold, but at the end of the day, I have to put together six dives, and if it’s the best six dives that I’ve ever done and I get third I can’t be upset with that.”
As a diver, Boudia doesn’t get the same recognition as some other Olympians. It’s a niche sport, one that even he wasn’t a huge fan of when he first started watching the Games.
Boudia didn't start diving until 2000, four years after he recalls watching the 1996 Summer Olympics and dreaming of one day winning a gold medal.
“When I was seven years old wanting to be an Olympian, I wasn’t like, ‘diving is the sport that I’m gonna do it in.’ I was into gymnastics and soccer and I was running when I was younger. So I didn’t really care if it was any of those sports, I just wanted to go to the Olympic Games. And I tried diving out one time and I was somewhat decent. So I stuck with it and got fairly good at it quickly. And so that’s how I found diving. It wasn’t, ‘when I grow up I want to be a diver.’ It was, ‘when I grow up I want to be an Olympian. ’”
No matter how Boudia performs in his upcoming competition, it appears that his choice to try out diving was the right one.