Power Ranking the Top 10 Male Divers in U.S. Olympic History
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There are few things in sports more astounding to witness than an Olympic diver in mid-leap. The sheer athleticism and speed with which they travel and maneuver is amazing.
For the male U.S. Olympic diving team, there has not been much to celebrate of late. Gone are the glory days of Greg Louganis and Sammy Lee. The U.S. team has not reached the podium since Mark Lenzi's bronze medal in 1996.
However, the team has a bunch of fresh-faced youngsters who are eager to return the respect to American diving. Though they may not like their standing on this list now, they have a chance to win some medals this summer and improve their place in the history books. Where they are come September, we can't know. So for now, find out where the young guns rank among the top 10 male divers in U.S. Olympic history.
10. Thomas Finchum
At just 22-years-old, Finchum is just scratching the surface of his potential.
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One of those bright young stars looking to make a name for himself in London is Thomas Finchum. The Indiana native competed four years ago in Beijing in the 10-meter platform and 10-meter synchronized platform events.
Despite only registering a 12th place finish in his individual competition, Finchum teamed with David Boudia to place fifth in the synchronized event. The duo were only 27 points off the leaders and both figure to be back in 2012.
Finchum is still only 22-years-old and has one gold medal at the Pan American Games in 2007 from his victory with Boudia in that same event. Finchum can move his way up this list with an Olympic medal this summer.
9. Kent Ferguson
Ferguson just missed an Olympic medal at the 1992 Games.
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Kent Ferguson turned out to be a disappointment for the American Olympic team. The highly touted diver out of Iowa performed superbly at the 1991 Pan American Games and World Championships before failing on the biggest stage of them all.
In the '91 competitions, Ferguson earned the gold in the 3-meter springboard. However, Ferguson choked in the Barcelona Games in 1992, dropping to fifth in the event. That would be Ferguson's first and final Olympic performance.
8. Scott Donie
Donie's surprise silver in 1992 catapults him into the rankings.
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There is something to be said about longevity, and Scott Donie is a picture of that. A member of the U.S. National Diving team for eleven years, Donie managed to get the most out of his talents.
In the same 1992 Olympics that Kent Ferguson no-showed, Donie gave America the silver medal in the 10-meter platform.
Four years later, Donie participated in the 1996 Games in Atlanta and finished just shy of another medal. This time Donie was just edged out of the bronze in the 3-meter springboard. Had he won that second medal, he would automatically have to vault into the top five.
7. William Dickey
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I am not sure how stiff the diving competition was in 1904, but a gold medal is a gold medal. William Dickey took home the gold at the third ever modern Olympic Games in St. Louis Missouri.
Dickey has the only gold medal ever awarded for the Plunge for Distance event. That could mainly be because 1904 was the only year that it was included by that name. The Plunge was a precursor to everything we see now with our divers. For paving the way for the divers of today, Dickey earns a spot inside the top ten. For winning that gold medal, he settles nicely in the seven-spot.
6. David Boudia
David Boudia is one of the medal hopefuls for the USA Diving team.
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I toyed with sliding David Boudia up this list a few spots, but he was just too unproven. The 23-year-old will be participating in his second Olympic Games this summer and has a very good chance to land on at least one podium.
Of all the divers on this list, Boudia has the best opportunity to move up it. The Indiana native won the 10-meter platform silver medal at last year's World Championships in Shanghai.
Boudia will team up again with Thomas Finchum for the 10-meter synchronized platform event. The two will be focused on bringing Olympic glory back to the U.S. Diving program that has struggled at the Games recently.
5. Bruce Kimball
Bruce Kimball has one of the few USA Diving Olympic medals.
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Bruce Kimball probably has the most interesting life story of any diver on the list. At age 18, Kimball was in an accident with a drunk driver that broke every bone in his face as well as one leg and a skull fracture. The injuries also cause him to lose his spleen. This was in 1981.
The following year, Kimball recovered and took home the bronze medal in the 1982 World Championships. His comeback tour continued two years later when he snuck past the competition on his final dive in the 1984 Olympics. Kimball earned the silver medal in the 10-meter platform at the Los Angeles Games, just three years removed from the terrible crash.
Things did not end there for Kimball. While attempting to compete in the 1988 Games, he was once again involved in a drunk driving accident. This time, however, Kimball was at fault. His negligence while operating under the influence killed two boys. He spent five years in prison for his crime.
4. Phil Boggs
In the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal, Boggs brought America a Gold medal.
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Phil Boggs is our first "recent" gold medalist in this rankings. He took it home to the U.S. at the 1976 Games of Montreal. Boggs competed in the 3-meter springboard.
The Akron, Ohio native is tough to place this far back from the front due to his immense talent. The issue is there is only the one Olympic medal, while the top three all have multiple. However a four-spot for Boggs is still fantastic and respective of his three World Championship gold medals and three Pan American medals.
Boggs' story is also a tragic one. In his late 30s, he was diagnosed with lymphoma and lived just past his 40th birthday. Boggs passed away on the fourth of July, 1990, five years after being inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame.
3. Mark Lenzi
Mark Lenzi was a standout performer in two Olympic Games.
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Mark Lenzi finds himself high on this list because of results. Winning two Olympic medals is no easy task, and winning them in two separate Olympic Games is an added degree of difficulty.
Lenzi gave America the gold medal in the 1992 3-meter springboard at the Barcelona Games. He is also responsible for the United States' most recent diving medal, a bronze at the 1996 Atlanta Games in the same competition.
Lenzi owns the title of first ever 100 point scorer as well as the first man ever to complete a 4.5 somersault-tuck in competition.
Like Boggs, Lenzi passed away far too soon. This past March, Lenzi was rushed to the hospital where he passed away on April 9th, 2012. He was 43-years-old.
2. Sammy Lee
Sammy Lee has the second most diving medals among USA Olympic athletes.
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Now we have come to the heavy-hitters of U.S. Diving history. At the two-spot, we have Sammy Lee, seen here at the 100 Days Celebration a few weeks ago.
Lee was born in Fresno, CA way back in 1920 and is of Korean descent. He competed in two Olympic Games for the United States and became the first ever Asian-American gold medalist for the U.S. Team. Lee brought two gold medals to the states in the 10-meter platform as well as a bronze in the 3-meter springboard.
In both the 1948 and '52 Olympic Games, America was in an interesting place still dealing with the aftermath of WWII. Lee took the nation by storm though, winning gold medals in each of the games in London and Helsinki. The 28-year-old also won a bronze at the '48 London Games. Lee then returned at age 32 to compete and win the 10-meter platform in Helsinki. His track record and medal case is only surpassed by one man, whom he actually coached.
1. Greg Louganis
Louganis' 5 Olympic Diving medals remain a USA record.
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That man is none other than the great Greg Louganis. Winning five medals (four gold) over the course of three Olympic Games has made Louganis synonymous with the sport of diving.
As a 16-year-old at the 1976 Montreal Games, Louganis gave U.S. fans a taste of what was to come of the young man from California. He took home the silver medal in the 10-meter platform.
Louganis returned to the biggest stage eight years later at the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984, winning two gold medals in both the 10-meter platform and 3-meter springboard. That performance should have cemented him in Olympic lore, but Louganis wasn't yet finished.
At the 1988 Games in Seoul, Louganis repeated his performance from the '84 Games. He once again earned the same two golds for his country, 12 years after his first Olympic medal.
Louganis' legend is added to by his five World Championship golds as well as his out-of-the-pool exploits. In 1994, Louganis revealed to the world that he had known that he was HIV positive since right before the '88 Games. The following year, he co-wrote his autobiography which detailed his thrilling life story.