INDIANAPOLIS – Purdue divers David Boudia and Steele Johnson finished one-two in the individual 10-meter diving competition to earn Olympic bids in the final event of the U.S. Olympic Team Trials on Sunday evening.
Boudia and Johnson already qualified for the Olympics in synchronized 10-meter earlier in the trials, but to earn the prestigious individual berths they had to out duel David Dinsmore for the top-two finishes. Boudia won with a cumulative score of 1,534.40. Johnson dropped to third after round three Sunday, but rallied and finished 12 points ahead of Dinsmore with a cumulative score of 1,475.15.
Boudia has now qualified for two events, individual and synchronized 10-meter, in each of his three Olympic appearances. Of Team USA’s 10 diving qualifiers this year, Boudia is the only member that was also on the Olympic team in 2008. He is the USA’s first male diver to make three straight Olympic teams since Troy Dumais was part of four straight from 2000 to 2012.
Having two athletes of the same gender qualify for the Olympics in the same sport is a rare occurrence for Purdue athletics. In 1956, three women’s swimmers with ties to Purdue University competed at the Olympic Games. But since then only the 2000 Olympics – featuring track & field’s Chris Huffins (USA) and Ike Olekaibe (Nigeria) – did the rare double also occur. Boudia is just the third Boilermaker to qualify for at least three Olympics.
Purdue’s MacKenzie Tweardy (10th in 10-meter) and Joe Cifelli (12th in 3-meter) were also finalists at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials this weekend.
While Boudia led the entire final, Johnson and Dinsmore battled for the second spot. Johnson entered the night with a seven-point lead and posted an average score of 91.6 over his final three dives. Both divers struggled with their back 3 ½ somersault, earning the same lackluster score of 61.05. But Johnson’s poor effort came in round three while Dinsmore’s was in round four. Meanwhile, Johnson’s best dive of the night, earning a 99.4 on a forward 4 ½ somersault, was in round four. That allowed the Carmel native to retake second place for good. Dinsmore scored 102.60 points on his final dive and had two others score more than 90 points, but Johnson won the night 513.35 to 509.25 in the battle for second. Boudia’s list score Sunday was 527.15.
“It was an intense contest. I was diving right after Dinsmore, so I wasn’t looking at the scores so I didn’t know where I was throughout the whole contest,” Johnson said. “I was able to hear their scores, but I was trying to put it out of my mind and not think about it. Just do the dive the best I could, and that honestly is all I could do. It worked out in the end. I had five really good, really solid dives and one just okay dive. At the end of the day we got the job done, and I’m really excited to go represent USA in two events now.”
Boudia, who will have a chance to defend his Olympic gold medal from 2012, opened the finals with 102.60 points on his armstand double back somersault with 2 ½ twits. He said a contest like this will help the United States not only in preparation for Rio, but also for the future.
“[Johnson and Dinsmore] battled and they are troopers. That’s what’s so hard about chasing the Olympic Dream – you either make it or you get crushed. It’s hard to see David falter and get third place. He’s worked so hard and has had a great year. I know this will make him stronger come 2020,” Boudia said. “That’s what we needed. We needed those two guys to come in here and perform like that. I think it goes to all of our competition readiness. Steele and I know the dog fight will be even bigger in Rio.”
“You know what’s funny, is when this competition was over, I wasn’t extremely happy with it. I obviously did well, but that’s not going to cut it in Rio. I know there is a lot more work to be done and there is going to be a lot more dives to be put down. While I’m happy, I know we have a lot more work to do for 40 days from now,” Boudia said.
After missing out on an Olympic synchro berth by less than half a point in 2012, Cassidy Cook made her first Olympic team by winning the women’s individual 3-meter event Sunday. Abby Johnston, who won Olympic silver in synchronized 3-meter four years ago, became a two-time Olympian after securing her first individual berth by finishing second.
Of the 10 divers set to represent the United State at the 2016 Olympic Games, five are from universities in the state of Indiana. The Hoosiers will be represented by Amy Cozad, Jessica Parratto and Michael Hixon. Sam Dorman, Kristian Ipsen and Katrina Young round out the team.
Cook is the sister of Purdue alumna Kara Cook, the 2008 Big Ten champion on 10-meter. Young competed in 10-meter synchro with Purdue’s Anna James this week.
“Oh gosh, I’m at a loss of words. It all happened so fast. I knew going into my last dive that I just had to do it to make the team. And it’s just a rush of emotions after that. I ran to my coach and ran to my family. It kind of still a blur right now, but it was amazing,” Cassidy Cook said.
Cook, who has had two shoulder surgeries and a knee surgery since the 2012 trials, scored 1,003.65 points over three lists of dives to win the 2016 trials and realize her Olympic dreams.
“I was afraid that I was never going to get back to full form. I didn’t want to be a has-been at age 19. So I did have that thought in the back of my mind, but I never wanted to give up on my dream. Whenever I did feel like I was giving up, I would think about the little 4-year-old girl who was jumping off the boards and had that dream of going to the ‘Balympics’ (as she called it as a little girl),” Cook said.
Johnston, who recently finished her second year of medical school at Duke University, qualified second with 949.30 points.
“It’s just as sweet as it was four years ago,” Johnston said.
Initially, the U.S. had qualified just one spot for the women’s 3-meter event but was notified Friday that a second spot had been awarded. For Johnston, that brought relief. She was in second place, 34.3 points behind Cook after Tuesday’s semifinals.
“It had been a long time coming waiting for the announcement. We expected that they would give us that second spot, and I was just trying to put it out of my mind the whole week. There were various times when they said it would be on Monday, then Wednesday and then finally they told us on Friday. I was just really, really happy that the job I set out to do in Rio was done, and that I would have the chance to go back there in that final spot,” Johnston said.
The 2016 Olympic Games begin August 5 in Rio de Janeiro.