Jul 22, 2014, 12:24 PM EST
David Boudia was a spectator for the biggest platform diving final of the year. He considered that a competitive advantage considering the big picture, the 2016 Olympics.
“I was able to be on the outside looking into the competition,” he said. “I saw their strengths, weaknesses. I was evaluating.”
Boudia entered three of four events at the FINA World Cup in Shanghai last week. The one he missed was the platform, his 2012 Olympic gold medal event. Boudia didn’t contest it at the 2013 Winter Nationals, where individual World Cup spots were determined.
Boudia has said he’s using the “off year” — no Olympics, no World Championships — to experiment with new dives and new events.
So, Boudia spent most of his time in Shanghai climbing three meters above the pool rather than 10. He placed eighth in the 3m springboard, fourth in the synchro springboard with Sam Dorman and third in the synchro platform with Steele Johnson.
He watched the last event Sunday, the men’s platform final, where the Chinese pipeline produced another one-two finish. Yang Jian, 20, scored 543.83 points to defeat veteran Qiu Bo, who had 528.5.
Three years ago, Qiu won the World Championship and became the Olympic favorite. But Boudia knocked him off by 1.8 points in London for the first U.S. Olympic diving gold medal since 2000.
Qiu repeated as World champion with 581 points in Barcelona last year, where Boudia was a distant second with 517.4 in the final (though Boudia beat Qiu in the semis).
Boudia couldn’t have been surprised seeing Qiu and Yang star in Shanghai, given he finished behind one of them at each of his three World Series platform competitions this year.
“They’re on a whole other level than the rest of the world,” Boudia said (Yang can be unrivaled in particular, scoring a record 616.5 points at the London World Series event). “I definitely think [Yang] will probably be the favorite going into Rio. Qiu Bo is right behind him.”
Yet Boudia doesn’t consider himself an underdog. Not with that Olympic gold medal back home in Indiana.
“London  really boosted my confidence and belief that I can contend with these Chinese guys,” he said. “Diving is a world where consistency is the name of the game. Any given day a guy can miss a dive just like that, and they’re out of it totally.”
Boudia finished his season in Shanghai, and he’s left with thoughts as he takes a break for the birth of his daughter. What events does he want to try to qualify for his third Olympics in 2016?
He wants three — individual platform, synchro platform and either individual springboard or synchro springboard. He flew to Shanghai leaning toward the synchro springboard, but that eighth-place finish in the individual springboard was encouraging for Boudia, who won the Winter Nationals title in the event.
He sees room for improvement without much separation from the medal contenders.
“Going into the last round here in the World Cup, I was maybe four or five points out of third place … and I didn’t have the hardest dives,” Boudia said.
No U.S. diver has qualified for both individual Olympic events since Mark Ruiz in 2000. Before that, the last to do it was Greg Louganis, who swept the platform and springboard golds in 1984 and 1988. Nobody has won Olympic medals in both events since Russian Dmitry Sautin in 2000.
Boudia’s added event is just one of the changes for USA Diving since it won four medals in London. Five of the six women on the Olympic Team have retired, with synchro springboard silver medalist Abby Johnston the outlier.
Boudia’s Olympic synchro platform bronze medal teammate, Nick McCrory, competed internationally for the first time since the Olympics in Shanghai. Like Boudia, he focused on the springboard, finishing 12th.
It appears they won’t dive together in synchro platform leading into Rio, since Boudia has a new synchro platform partner in the 18-year-old Johnson.
Nov 28, 2014, 9:24 AM EST
Japanese site could break a 46-year Winter Olympic streak.
Nov 28, 2014, 8:47 AM EST
Tikhonov died earlier this week at 84 after a long illness.
Nov 28, 2014, 8:32 AM EST
Olympic champion’s status for World Championships in January is unclear.
Nov 28, 2014, 8:15 AM EST
Olympic champion hopes to return for Beaver Creek next weekend.
Nov 28, 2014, 8:03 AM EST
Grand Prix final picture includes plenty of Americans.
Nov 26, 2014, 1:06 PM EST
Full schedule of coverage across World Cups, Grand Prix events and World Championships.
Nov 26, 2014, 7:42 AM EST
Sister-brother team had bronze medals, but the official results didn’t reflect that until Tuesday.
Nov 25, 2014, 1:19 PM EST
Neither has competed since the London Olympics.
Nov 25, 2014, 10:46 AM EST
Scheduling conflicts, another new event?
Nov 25, 2014, 9:27 AM EST
Christ the Redeemer, Olympic motto honored on the coins.
Nov 24, 2014, 10:23 PM EST
Phelps is working toward 2015 goals, a North Baltimore official said.
Nov 24, 2014, 3:52 PM EST
An MRI and bone scan showed no structural damage.
Nov 24, 2014, 11:25 AM EST
Canada won its first men’s hockey Olympic gold in 50 years under Quinn.
Nov 24, 2014, 10:11 AM EST
Olympic champion Shields was named the tournament’s best overall boxer.
Nov 24, 2014, 9:17 AM EST
Tikhonov led the Soviets in the Miracle on Ice game.
Nov 24, 2014, 8:42 AM EST
Sun tested positive for a substance he could have used legally if he filed paperwork with anti-doping officials.
Nov 23, 2014, 9:27 PM EST
Public vote to name the mascots.
Nov 23, 2014, 8:38 PM EST
Video of how he suffered the injury was posted on Ligety’s social media.
Nov 22, 2014, 4:24 PM EST
It’s unlikely a U.S. man will qualify for the Grand Prix Final.
Nov 22, 2014, 9:05 AM EST
“i just don’t want to puke,” Wagner said.
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