Steele Johnson is a six-time individual and eight-time synchro U.S. champion diver at the senior level. At the Olympic Games Rio 2016, Johnson earned silver at his Olympic debut in 10-meter synchro with partner David Boudia. Making his Pan American Games debut in Lima, Peru, Johnson is chronicling his journey on TeamUSA.org and @TeamUSA social media channels.
It is important to go into every competition with a set of goals you hope to accomplish. Personally, when I set goals, I do whatever I possibly can to achieve them. The Pan American Games is no exception to that rule! Every competition will hold learning experiences, and these experiences will not only grow you as an athlete, but as a person too.
I had two main goals as I arrived to Lima last week. Those goals were to work on my competition routine and to control what I can control. Underneath those goals I always have a goal of ending up on the podium, but that is a goal I try not to think about because I cannot control how other competitors perform. My goal of controlling what I can control is a seemingly simple goal to set, but a challenging one to execute. The sport of diving is a very precise sport, and on any given day any athlete can end up on the top of the podium. So what am I talking about when I say “control what I can control”? I’m talking about my specific dives.
I can control my jump, my flips, my form and my entries. All of those are attributes of a dive that I can always control. What I cannot control are things like my competitor’s dives, the pool, the lighting, the surface of the platform, the crowd, and so on. It is easy to make a mistake and start to come up with excuses as to why I made that mistake, and so that is why I have put an emphasis on focusing on my own diving. Focusing on the things I can control will ultimately bring consistency in my competition and allow me to learn from both my successes and my mistakes.
My other goal is to work on my competition routine. Last September, I underwent a foot surgery that took me out of competition for the winter season. Again, in February of this year, I underwent a second foot surgery to fix issues caused by the first surgery. Due to having a second surgery, I missed out on all competitions in the spring season. In short, before our trial event in May, I had not competed since June of 2018. Spending so much time away from competition is difficult because it can pull an athlete out of their groove and cause them to forget how to execute their competition routine. With that knowledge, I made it a goal to relearn my competition routine and perfect it as best as I can.
It is no small feat to take nearly a year off of training/competing and get thrown back into such a big event like the Pan American Games, but by setting specific and attainable goals, I have set myself up for success to learn as much as I possibly can from this event. Go Team USA!