The duo took second place in the women's synchronized 3-meter springboard on Sunday, July 29 after only winning the U.S. Olympic Diving Trials by .42 points. Not to mention, the Americans failed to medal in any diving event during the 2008 Summer Olympics.
Along with the lack of success in recent history for American divers and in this specific event, these London Games were the first Summer Olympics for Johnston and only the second for Bryant (who placed fourth in Beijing). In short, it's certainly reasonable to believe they were a long shot to medal.
Fortunately, neither diver let the pressure to medal faze them, and they demonstrated impressive consistency.
Bryant and Johnston averaged no less than 7.8 points per dive (once, fourth attempt) and hit at least eight on their other four attempts. In addition, the duo did not receive any deductions from penalties on any dive, which displays an extreme amount of poise, maturity and confidence.
"It was amazing all our hard work has paid off over the last four years," Johnston said. "I've had Abby by my side and we have worked our butts off, calling each other for a shoulder to cry on when we needed too. I think since Abby and I got the medal it will set a good tone for U.S. diving."
Diving alone is difficult enough, but synchronizing is easily light-years more challenging when performing pikes, reverses, somersaults and twists in near perfect unison. Timing becomes everything, and the judges don't have any tolerance when it comes to even the most minuscule of errors.
That said, Bryant and Johnston proved that this is why every competition must play out, regardless of the event.
We expect other U.S. swimming/diving Olympians like Missy Franklin, Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte and Christina Loukas to put on a show. This American springboard duo provides new perspective on why the Olympics are so great.
Underdogs and upsets happen in sports, but only once every four years on the Olympiad level. Now Bryant and Johnston have another task ahead of them: performing with the pressure of expectations.
The next time they move to the edge of the spring board, we'll see the true potential of each athlete. In turn, this duo's immediate future shows significant promise after a surreal performance in London.
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