David Boudia competes in the USA Diving Senior National Championships on May 25, 2019 in Indianapolis, Indiana.
World championships are always a big deal, but you can bet that when Olympic quota spots are on the line, the event takes on a whole added significance.
That’s the case for divers at this year’s FINA World Championships in Gwangju, South Korea.
The U.S. team was selected based on the results of the 2019 USA Diving Senior National Championships held in May, and a total of 19 U.S. divers, including five Olympians and 14 with prior world championship experience, will take on the best in the world beginning on Thursday. They are hoping to not only land on the podium but also secure quota spots that will allow U.S. divers to compete at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
The event runs Thursday through July 24 with many events streaming live via olympicchannel.com and nbcsports.com/live and broadcast live on the Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA. Both the Olympic Channel and NBCSN will also broadcast a number of events on delay. Click here for a full schedule.
Here’s a look at six storylines and questions as Team USA enters the meet:
Olympic Quotas Are On The Line
With 2020 looming on the horizon, the world championships will be the first opportunity for divers to earn Olympic quotas for their countries. That doesn’t mean the specific individual will compete in Tokyo, but rather the U.S. will lock down the opportunity to send an athlete or athletes in the specific event. In this case, the top three finishers in each synchro event will earn quota spots for their countries and the top 12 in each individual event will also earn quota spots, with a maximum of two spots per country. There is a total of eight medal events at the Olympic Games (men’s and women’s platform, men’s and women’s springboard, men’s and women’s synchronized platform and men’s and women’s springboard).
In 2016, the U.S. took 10 divers to the Games: David Boudia, Sam Dorman, Michael Hixon, Kristian Ipsen, Steele Johnson, Kassidy Cook, Amy Cozad, Abby Johnston, Jessica Parratto and Katrina Young. Boudia earned a bronze medal in men’s 10-meter platform and partnered with Johnson to earn a silver medal in 10-meter synchro, and Dorman and Hixon partnered to win the silver medal in 3-meter synchro.
David Boudia Faces Toughest Competition Yet On 3-meter
The three-time Olympian and four-time medalist took a year off after Rio and considered retirement before announcing in July 2017 that he was returning to the sport. He suffered a concussion in February 2018, however, and when he returned to competition last fall it was not from 33 feet above the water. After the concussion, Boudia bid farewell to the platform and turned his attention to the more forgiving but also quite different 3-meter springboard with the hopes of making a fourth Olympic team.
After winning more than 40 international medals from the platform between individual and synchro competitions, this will be his first test against the best in the world on springboard. He won the national title back in May, his first on springboard since 2013, to earn his spot on the team and he will make his debut at 3 meters in his seventh trip to the world championships.
4 U.S. Olympians Are Contending
Boudia isn’t the only Olympian who’ll be taking on the world. He’s joined by four members of the 2016 team all looking to make return trips in 2020. Johnson will be competing along with his former Purdue teammate, Ben Bramley, in men’s synchronized platform. Hixon will be competing in men’s synchronized springboard, 3-meter springboard and 1-meter springboard, which isn’t an Olympic event. Young will pair with Murphy Bromberg in women’s synchronized platform and Cozad, who is now Cozad Magaña, will compete in individual women’s platform.
David Dinsmore Aims To Continue International Success
Dinsmore had the distinction of being the only American diver to medal in an Olympic event at last year’s FINA Diving World Cup event in Wuhan, China, which was the sport’s highest competition in 2018. His bronze medal in men’s platform positioned him as a medal threat in 2020, and a repeat podium performance this year would only solidify that heading into the Olympic year. He also earned World Cup bronze in the mixed 3-meter/10-meter team event with Krysta Palmer. A rising Miami senior, Dinsmore won the national title last year and at the U.S. championships in May had the highest cumulative score from all three rounds and finished second in the final behind Brandon Loschiavo to knock Johnson out of the running for the individual event in South Korea. This will be Dinsmore’s third trip to the world championships and he’ll be looking for his first worlds medal in an Olympic event.
Team USA Last Medaled In An Olympic Event In 2015
The only U.S. medal at the 2017 world championships was Dinsmore and Palmer’s bronze in the mixed 3-meter/10-meter team event, which isn’t part of the Olympic program. In 2015, Boudia won silver in platform but that was it for the U.S. in Olympic events (Hixon won bronze in 1-meter springboard as well). Boudia also represented the only medal for the U.S. in 2013, another silver in platform. Heading into the Olympic year, the U.S. would love to not only lock down quota spots but also make a return to the podium in events that will be contested in Tokyo.
Michael Hixon’s Schedule Is Packed
It’s tough enough training for one world championship event, but Hixon will be the only American to compete in not one, not two, but three events. He’ll partner with Andrew Capobianco in synchronized springboard, compete solo in springboard and then also take on 1-meter springboard, which isn’t an Olympic event but will add to his busy schedule. If all goes well, he could be competing as many as five days in seven sessions.