There was a time not too long ago when David Boudia was thinking of calling it quits.
He was a year removed from winning gold in the 10-meter platform diving at the 2012 London Olympics, becoming the first American to do so since Greg Louganis in 1988 and the first American diving medalist since 1992. But in 2013, just after reaching the pinnacle of his sport, Boudia was at a crossroads.
“I was kind of debating, ‘Do I continue in this sport? Do I go back?’” Boudia said.
A year later, Dakoda Boudia was born. A seven-pound, six-ounce, 20 3/4-inch bundle of joy gave her father a newfound energy, one that has helped him launch headfirst into the next part of his career.
Boudia, 27, is headed to Rio for his third Olympic Games, where he will try to defend both his gold medal in the 10-meter platform and exceed the bronze in the synchronized 10-meter platform alongside partner Steele Johnson. He has credited the birth of his daughter with helping revitalize his diving career.
“That was a time in my career when I was a little bit apprehensive, a little bit tired of doing what I was doing,” Boudia told Newsday recently during an interview to promote Uncrustables’ #Unstoppable Olympic campaign. “So she kind of brought in that fire back into my life, knowing that I have a little girl that’s looking up to me.”
Boudia tallied a 1,534.40 cumulative score to win the 10-meter platform at the U.S. diving trials in June. He has been training at Purdue, where he attended college, and plans on heading to Rio this week.
“To be honest, after the Olympic trials, that week going back into training was probably the hardest week of training that I’ve had since last August, because of the sole fact that you are just on this adrenaline high after making the team and diving really well,” Boudia said. “So you get back to reality and you crash and you know there’s still a lot of work to do.”
Boudia knows the challenge that comes with defending his Olympic gold medal. Competing in two previous Olympics helped give him some perspective, especially after already having won one.
“It kind of takes off that pressure of trying to win the Olympics for the first time,” Boudia said. “But there’s also the target on your back, knowing that the Chinese are dominant in my sport, and they haven’t won the Olympics since 2004. So you know they’re going to come in ready to go, and the target will be on my back for sure.”
Boudia said he and his wife plan on having more children in the future to join Dakoda, but he said he’s not concerned with Zika, the mosquito-borne virus that can cause severe birth defects. Many athletes already withdrew from the Olympics, citing concerns about the Zika virus.
“We knew what our ultimate goal was going into this year, and that was the Olympic Games,” Boudia said. “So we put [having more children] on hold, and we know that the Olympic Committee and the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] are giving us all the updates we need to take the proper precautions. But ultimately, at the end of the day, my number one thing – and my wife knows this too, and she’s supportive – is going into Rio to compete. So Zika’s kind of like an afterthought when it comes to that.”
So Boudia will dive in Rio as planned, looking for a repeat of four years ago, with a bunch of family members there to cheer him on.
And yes, that includes Dakoda.
Said Boudia: “I want her to see her daddy as someone who works extremely hard and is unstoppable and is able to put things ahead of his feeling so that he can accomplish a greater goal.”