While his classmates were busy with toys and recess, David Boudia was already carving out his path to the Olympics. At just seven years old, the Texas native watched the opening ceremonies of the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games and decided that he wanted to dive right in.
But your standard diving platform wouldn’t do for the athlete who was so sure of his dream from early on. Instead, he took to great heights, specializing in the 10-meter dive (the tallest jump in the category). By age 23, he found himself competing in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and by the 2012 London Games, had earned his first gold and bronze medal.
The 27-year-old, now ranked as the top 10-meter platform diver in the U.S., took a quick poolside chat with Daily Burn about his training routine, strategies for staying motivated, and his partnership with Head & Shoulders for the Shoulders of Greatness campaign.
Meet Olympic Diver David Boudia
You won a gold and a bronze medal in the 2012 London Olympics. What do you hope to accomplish and/or do differently in Rio?
Obviously I want to go back, do the same thing and win gold in Rio, but you put that on a shelf because ultimately you don’t have control of that. I have a strategy going into it to not focus on my competitors or the judge’s scores, but really focusing on the six dives that I have. Hopefully, I come out on top again like I did in London.
What is the biggest mental challenge you’ve faced so far and how have you overcome it?
The biggest mental challenge I’ve faced is obviously the 10-meter platform. A lot of people don’t know exactly what it is, but to put it into perspective, it’s 33 feet up in the air. That’s a three-story building! You’re going head-first from that height at 35 miles an hour, and you’re adding in the flipping and the twisting. It’s a really technical sport, and I think trying to overcome that is probably one of the hardest things that divers have to master if they want to compete on an elite stage.
So how have you overcome the fear?
Because I’ve been around the block a couple of times — this will be my third time at the Games — I kind of know what the pressure will be like. I think that’s an advantage I have over my other competitors.
Speaking of which, you’re partnering with Head & Shoulders on the brand’s Shoulders of Greatness campaign. Why is the partnership so important to you and what drives you to perform your best?
I became an ambassador for Head & Shoulders leading up to the Rio games for a campaign that recently launched called Shoulders of Greatness. If you asked my wife, she’d tell you that I’m pretty obsessed with my hair! I’m constantly showering because I’m in the pool all the time, and there’s constantly chlorine on my hair. The last thing I want is to go to an interview with a side swoop and have dandruff falling out! I don’t have to worry about that when I use Head & Shoulders.
What kinds of workouts do you do when you’re not at the pool practicing?
I’m extremely athletic, and I think more than that competitive, so I like to play a lot of different sports — [whether that’s] basketball or soccer. I don’t like to play friendly games either; I like to go all out. Pilates and yoga are also a big part of my training regimen, as well as weight lifting.
Do you ever give yourself a day off?
Of course! I think because I’m an “older athlete,” I have to rest on weekends. Monday through Friday I’m all game, and then on the weekends I’m pretty relaxed.
How do you stay motivated to work out and train on the days you’d just rather not?
Honestly, I have the opportunity to be lazy if I want to, but because my wife and child depend on me to work hard, they add the extra motivation. And ultimately if I’m not working hard in the pool or outside of the pool, then what’s the point of training for the Olympics? I want to do everything that I possibly can to work hard.
Do you have any go-to convenient food and snack options for travel?
Almonds are one of those easy things you can pack in your bag. Sometimes if I’m on short trips I carry hummus or peanut butter and a banana. Those are the easy go-tos that don’t taste horrible — and they give you a good punch of nutrition.
To track David Boudia’s journey in Rio, follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. And for updates on all things Team USA, visit teamusa.org. The Olympics begin on August 5, and the diving events start Sunday, August 7.