(L) Sam McGrath proposes to two-time Olympic diver Abby Johnston in July 2016.
RIO DE JANEIRO -- U.S. diver Abby Johnston has more on the horizon than just the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Johnston’s boyfriend, Sam McGrath, proposed two weeks after the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Diving in late June.
“We met because I lost my student ID in a parking lot, and he found it,” said Johnston, who will compete in the 3-meter individual event in Rio after winning 3-meter synchronized silver at the 2012 Olympics, breaking a 12-year medal drought for Team USA. “So he emailed me and said, ‘I found your student ID.’ And then we met up the next day, and I was like, ‘He’s so cute,’ and he asked me on a date.”
On June 26, Johnston finished second at trials to clinch her Olympic spot. Two weeks later, on July 10, she tweeted the news about her engagement.
“We were walking along the beach in Connecticut and I saw a sunflower, which is my favorite flower,” Johnston said. “I thought it was random but I looked closer and my student ID was sitting in the flower pot with my last name covered with his. I turned around and he got down on one knee and proposed.”
McGrath is a defensive graduate assistant football coach at Duke University, where Johnston trains and attends medical school. The couple met in October 2015.
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Johnston’s new fiancee will make the trip to Brazil to watch the women’s individual 3-meter competition, Aug. 12-14. In order to not miss too many days of Duke football practice, he plans to fly in the morning of preliminaries and leave the night of finals. McGrath also was at the diving trials.
“He was really great and very calm,” Johnston said. “He gets the sports world, being a coach himself. He understands when I have a bad practice and don’t want to talk about it, so he’s been my biggest supporter these past few months.”
While Johnston has been able to squeeze in some wedding planning prior to the Games, the majority will take place after competition concludes. Rio will serve as Johnston’s farewell from international competition, as she has plans to retire and finish her medical degree.
Nicole Chrzanowski is a student in the Sports Media Certificate program at the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication.