It didn't seem like David Boudia had much of a chance at winning a gold medal after the preliminary round in the 10-meter platform diving competition, but he found a way to do it.
The U.S. hadn't won an Olympic gold since 2000 and no man had done so since 1992, but Boudia was determined to become the first to do so.
At the prelims he finished with a score of 439.15, which was 18th in the competition. It seemed unlikely that he would advance much further, let alone win gold.
However, at the semifinals he posted an incredible score of 463.47, which was 24.32 points better than during prelims.
It was unbelievable to see him improve this much, and if medals had been awarded that day he would have been on the podium, as his score put him in third.
To see such a huge improvement was incredible, and it put him into the conversation for gold—although it still looked like he would finish behind China's Qiu Bo.
As Boudia entered competition on Saturday, we didn't know what we'd get. Would we see the version who struggled and got 18th in prelims or the one who came out and got third in the semis?
As it turns out, we got neither.
Tom Daley led going into the final dive. The man from Great Britain was in front of his home crowd, but he failed to keep the lead despite earning a 10. Boudia and Bo were tied for second heading into the final dive, and they both did the same dive, which was tougher than Daley's.
The determining factor between gold and silver was a single dive. Bo did it well, but Boudia was just a bit better, as he won by 1.8 points.
Boudia's score of 568.65 after six dives was absolutely incredible. He put up some of his best scores and walked out with a gold medal because of it.
Because he is the first American to win a gold in diving in 12 years and the first man to do so in two decades, he will be looked to for a source of inspiration. In a sport typically dominated by the Chinese, Americans very rarely win in diving, and hope was beginning to fade.
However, Boudia proved that it's still possible, and now we could see the reemergence of diving as one of Team USA's better sports. While we may never become clear favorites in diving, we can still improve, and Boudia helped take the next step down that path.
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