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US men dive to bronze

By Brian Hamilton, Chicago Tribune –

LONDON — It is neither natural nor sane, David Boudia very convincingly argued Monday, to stare at a tub of water from a three-story high ledge and leap off. So, as a petrified young diver, he wouldn’t.

His form of protest was climbing to the 10-meter platform and plopping down — a sit-in to sit-out — while his coach screamed from below. This lasted for 10 to 20 minutes. All that coaxed him off were his mother’s bribes of compact discs or whatever else entices a 12- to 13-year-old.

“They worked like a charm,” Boudia said, from Texas. “But ultimately it was whether I wanted to be at the Olympic Games or not. Now we’re here.”

Here was shoulder to shoulder on an Aquatics Centre podium with synchronized 10-meter platform diving partner Nicholas McCrory of North Carolina, bronze discs dangling off their necks — the first U.S. men to medal in diving since 1996, doing so in an event substantially more unforgiving than it was just four years earlier.

China, as usual, took home the gold with a 486.78 total — 18.6 points better than its winning tally in 2008. Mexico’s silver-worthy total of 468.9 would have won the event four years back, with the U.S. totaling 463.47 in a competition featuring what coach Drew Johnson deemed “probably some of the best diving that’s been done in the history of the world.”

“We’ve been hovering around (medaling) for years, a lot of fourth-place finishes, fifth-place finishes,” Johnson said. “A lot of opportunities that we have not quite been able to grab. Today was the day.”

It dawned essentially via the inadvertent hospitality of the hosts, too, with Britain stoking the Aquatics Centre crowd and leading the leviathan Chinese halfway through the six-dive contest.

And then came dive No. 4.

It was a cataclysm, a runty 71.28 on what the pair considered one of its strongest dives, ushering the U.S. — one round removed from its own poorest showing — back into the top 3 and recalibrating all the momentum. Britain would finish fourth.

“I’d rather finish last,” Britain’s Peter Waterfield said, “then at least you know you missed every dive.”

With hardware not entirely assured, the U.S. had one final dive to hit, and they hoisted themselves on to the ledge after a score of 95.04.

All that remained was the locker room roiling over Britain’s final effort, with Boudia wondering if he had uncoiled himself enough from wound-too-tight disappointment in Beijing, with McCrory wondering if he’d join his uncle — Gordon, a 1976 bronze medalist for Britain — with a podium finish.

Boudia, meanwhile, dressed himself in a blue shirt, anticipating the medal. It was a moment of strict confidence in a competition driven by keeping each other at ease, with Boudia and McCrory smiling and joking on the platform.

“We were up there having fun, enjoying the competition, laughing and having a good time,” McCrory said. “We were focused on the process, not winning a medal. We stayed true to our technique and this is where we ended up.”

Said Boudia: “It’s just a different perspective going from 2008 to 2012. It’s a totally different journey. It was a cool triumph for Nick and I and a cool win for USA Diving.”

They’d gone where no U.S. men had gone for 16 years. Boudia put the medal in his palm and smiled.

“It’s heavier than I thought,” he said.

And still it lightened the burden.

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