Diver David Boudia is hoping to win two more medals at the Rio Olympics, after winning gold in the 10-meter platform and bronze in the 10-meter synchronized diving events at the London 2012 Summer Games. During the London Games, Boudia was open about his faith as a Christian, which he credited with getting himself back on track after several difficult years as a teenager. Boudia and Steele Johnson won silver in men’s synchronized 10m platform in Rio.
Here’s a look at Boudia and his faith.
1. Boudia Was Inspired to Be Devoted to Christ by His Trainer, Adam Soldati
After the London Games, Boudia explained in his testimony for Faith Church in Lafayette, Indiana that he did not grow up in a religious household. But during his sophomore year at Purdue University in 2010, he put his faith in Christ after spending time with his coach, Adam Soldati, and Soldati’s wife Kimiko. Boudia was later baptized.
Boudia said in his testimony:
Through Adam’s faithful friendship in ministering the Word to me, I came to know Christ. I began to be discipled in my walk with Christ. I also sought out biblical counseling. Slowly and not always consistently, I began to realize from the Word of God that my purpose in life as God’s child was to live for Him and others—not myself. Living for David’s fame and David’s pleasure was one of my biggest problems in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and was the cause of my deepest moments of despair.
Although the ultimate results were a gold and bronze medal, Boudia said he found something even more valuable.
“God was completely sovereign throughout this entire journey. He knew how it was going to happen, when it was going to happen, and we know why it happens—to make me more like Christ,” he said.
2. Embracing Christianity Was a ‘Freeing Moment’ That Did Impact Boudia’s Diving
When he spoke to Beliefnet.com in July 2012, the 27-year-old Boudia said that embracing Christianity was a freeing moment for him. Competition looked different suddenly and it helped his diving.
“It’s totally freeing when I stay in tune with scripture,” Boudia said. “I don’t have to worry if I miss a dive. I go into competition and it’s like, ‘Praise God no matter what.’ If I do well, that’s awesome. I praise Him. If I don’t do well, praise Him even more. Competition looks way different now.”
In the same interview, he said he enjoyed preparing for the London Games more than Beijing. “In 2008, diving was my god. It was a forced competition. I needed to do well there if I wanted to do well later in life. But for this Olympics, I’m enjoying every moment, day by day because tomorrow’s not guaranteed,” he said.
3. Before 2010, Boudia Was a Member of the Our Lady of Grace Parish in Noblesville, Indiana
Boudia was a member of Our Lady of Grace Parish in Noblesville, Indiana when he made the 2008 Beijing team. The parish helped raise $2,000 so Boudia’s family could go to China to cheer him on.
“He dives all over the world, but he has always just been very unassuming,” Father John Zahn said of Boudia in 2008. “We’ll talk for a while about what is going on in his life. There is absolutely no pretense.”
4. Boudia Drank, Used Marijuana, Smoked & Even Thought About Suicide as a Teen
Boudia goes into detail about how he found redemption in religion and family after two difficult years following his failure to medal in Beijing in his new book Greater Than Gold: From Olympic Heartbreak to Ultimate Redemption, written with Tim Ellsworth. The Indy Star notes that he drank alcohol, smoked and used marijuana as a teen and even thought about suicide while at Purdue.
He credited his early struggles with thinking only about himself, but now he has his family. “So much more joyful. It’s so much better than it was when I was 15,” he told the Indy Star. Boudia is even considering going to the next Olympics in Tokyo.
“I woke up from a nap and felt like I’d hit a wall,” Boudia told Ellsworth in a 2012 interview. “I didn’t know what was going on. I didn’t know what my purpose was. I didn’t know why I was feeling the way I was feeling.”
Boudia has been married to Sonnie Boudia since 2010 and the two are parents to daughter Dakoda, who is almost 2.
“I accomplished a huge goal (in 2012) and that’s still the goal in 2016. But I’ve put that up on a shelf. This is my job now,” he said of having a family in an Associated Press interview.
5. Boudia’s Synchro Partner Steele Johnson Is Also a Christian
Boudia’s synchronized diving partner is Steele Johnson, who is also a Christian. Johnson’s career almost came to an end when he was 12 years old and hit his head on a concrete platform in 2009. Johnson, who is also coached by Soldati, told the Indy Star that his Christian faith has helped him in his career.
“He gave me this ability to dive,” Johnson said. “Yes, I had that accident. I had that injury. It happens. But I still had the ability to dive, and I still had the passion for diving. So now it’s gone from a selfish desire to be like some cool story to a selfless desire, like, God kept me alive and He is still giving me the ability to do what I do.”