David Boudia is the best American swimmer of his generation and is defending his unprecedented gold medal from the 2012 London Games in 10-meter platform in Rio on Monday. The 27-year-old, who also won a bronze in London for 10-meter synchronized diving, has seen his life change dramatically in the four years since London. He’s now a husband and father. Boudia and Steele Johnson won silver in men’s synchronized 10m platform.
Here’s a look at Boudia’s family.
1. Boudia & Brand Got Engaged During a Game of Succotash
In a Team USA.org interview in 2014, Boudia revealed the hilarious story of how he and Brand got engaged. He popped the question during a came he calls “succotash” that’s a mix of charades, Catch Phrase and other word games. They were playing the game before he was going off to the 2012 Olympic Trials. He explained:
I got the idea to put ‘engagement’ as one of the words in the game. We started playing the first round (which was Catch Phrase) and Sonnie actually guessed engagement right away. Then the second round (charades) I tried to make a silly gesture that wouldn’t resemble ‘engagement,’ but of course she guessed it right away — which wasn’t part of my plan.
It took Boudia some time to finally get the courage to ask her. Obviously she said “yes” when he did. The two got married after the London Olympics. They met while they were both at Purdue University.
2. He Doesn’t Think Dakoda Really Knows What Her Dad Does for a Living
After Bodia and partner Steele Johnson qualified for the Olympics in synchro in June, Boudia told NBC Olympics that he doesn’t think Dakoda (or Koda as he calls her) really understands what her dad does. He said:
My wife and I watched the broadcast last night to watch my dives and Koda afterwards was looking around like, not a clue. She was like, oh there’s dad. He was up there on the platform and now he’s down here holding me and people are all over. She, yea, she’s almost two. She’s still trying to figure out which one’s her right hand and left hand.
Dakoda was born in September 2014. Boudia told Newsday that he did consider leaving the sport before Dakoda was born, but she inspired him to get back into it, even if she doesn’t know it.
“That was a time in my career when I was a little bit apprehensive, a little bit tired of doing what I was doing,” he said. “So she kind of brought in that fire back into my life, knowing that I have a little girl that’s looking up to me.”
3. Boudia’s Parents First Got Him Into Gymnastics, but Switched to Diving After an Injury
Bouidia’s parents are Jim and Sheilagh Boudia and he has two sisters, Shaila and Shauni. In a 2012 interview with the Los Angeles Times, Jim said that they first got Boudia into gymnastics since he would do flips off furniture. He did well, but an injury ended his hopes in the spot.
“A friend won a ticket to take a diving lesson from a national team coach and David took it. The coach, John Wingfield, saw how acrobatic David was and was thrilled,” Jim told the LA Times.
Shauni Boudia played soccer at the University of Southern Indiana.
4. Boudia Was Homeschooled for the Last 2 Years of High School
Boudia made his Olympic debut at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. Before the Olympics, his parents decided to homeschool him for the final two years of high school, according to his website, to make sure he could focus on training for the games. While he didn’t win a medal in Beijing, he still did well, finishing fifth in the 10-meter synchro and 10th in 10-meter individual.
After Beijing, Boudia enrolled in Purdue instead of going pro. He won six NCAA titles during his college career and swept the 2009 and 2011 Big Ten Championships, the first to do so twice. He was named USA Diving athlete of the year in every year from 2010-2015. He also won that title in 2008.
5. Boudia Wrote About His Personal Life in ‘Greater Than Gold,’ But Sonnie Isn’t Bothered By Him Sharing His Story
Last week, Boudia released his book, Greater Than Gold: From Olympic Heartbreak to Ultimate Redemption, written with Tom Ellsworth. The book covers Boudia’s personal struggles in his teen years, which included smoking, trying marijuana and drinking. Now a Christian, he has tried to put his struggles behind him, but he understands the need to talk about them.
“People sense vulnerability, they attach themselves to you and feel more free to have a conversation, or more free to be open in talking about struggles,” he told the Indy Star. “As a whole, we don’t like talking about struggles. We don’t like to feel weak.”
Sonnie and Boudia broke up twice when they were dating. She told the Indy Star that she wasn’t upset about Boudia sharing so much about their lives.
“I think honesty is always best,” Sonnie said. “I appreciate his vulnerability. We’re just like everyone else. We have things we’re working through.”
She also told the site that she was encouraged by seeing Boudia’s growth. “I was growing in my own way, too. So God used those hard things to change me, and I’m thankful for that,” she said.