BARCELONA, Spain — David Boudia managed a slight smile, took a deep breath, and hurled himself off the big tower one last time.
When he climbed out of the pool, he was headed to a familiar spot – the medal podium.
It wasn’t a gold like the London Olympics.
But silver felt pretty good, too, after all the doubts he’s had the past year.
“This has definitely been the hardest year of my life,” said Boudia, who took second behind China’s Qiu Bo in the 10-meter platform at the world championships Sunday. “As a kid, you dream of being an Olympic gold medalist. And that was accomplished for me by God’s grace. So, after that, there’s not a lot of motivation. You kind of have to dig down deep and ask yourself, ‘Why do I do what I do? Why do I continue to dive?’”
Boudia’s silver in the final pool diving event of these championships kept the Americans from a medal shutout, which would’ve been especially disheartening a year after the U.S. team won four Olympics medals in London.
China dominated, as usual, with nine golds in 10 events at the picturesque pool atop Montjuic, leaving the rest of the world with little more to remember from this meet except that wonderful view of the city below.
Outside of Boudia, the Americans were clearly not in top form coming into Barcelona, with some divers slowed by injuries and others taking time off from the national team. It was a team lacking in international experience, and it showed.
“Right now we are building,” said Steve Foley, the high performance director of USA Diving. “We’ve got some work to do.”
Other than taking fifth in men’s 3-meter synchro, no other American came close to challenging for a medal. There were a couple of seventh-place finishes, a pair of 10ths, two more 11ths, along with a 12th. In four events, a U.S. diver failed to advance to the final.
“Even if you’re making a final, if you’re not in the top six, you’re not in the upper echelon,” Foley said.
As long as Boudia hangs around, the Americans have at least one medal contender.
He’s become a consistent threat at the major events, having won a silver at the 2011 world championships, then a gold in London, and now another silver at worlds.
“I’m actually amazed at what he did,” Foley said. “Somewhere along the way, I thought he was going to have a letdown. He didn’t.”