Boudia was not aware of his place in the standings until he saw the leaderboard at the end and his fellow divers congratulated him and told him to smile.
“During the fifth round the crowd went nuts because of Tom,” he said. “I did hear that, but I had no idea where I stood. I was totally astonished.”
Boudia attributed his sense of peace to his religious faith. At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, where he finished 10th, he was diving for himself, he said.
“I was diving for my glory,” he said. “In 2012, I wasn’t chasing gold. I wanted to dive my best and dive for the glory of God.”
Daley was Great Britain’s youngest ever Olympic competitor at the 2008 Olympics, which made him famous at age 15. In London, not only did he face hometown pressure and distracting adoration, but he was still grieving the loss of his father, who had died after the recurrence of a brain tumor. After Daley missed a medal in the synchronized event, he received a cruel tweet about letting down his dad.
Both divers overcame their nerves and stole the spotlight from world champ Qiu. Boudia, 24, a Purdue student who got married in October, can look back at his start in the sport and laugh. He burned out in gymnastics and gave up soccer at age 13 to pursue diving but initially was “petrified” of the platform.
“You are three stories up,” he said. “I had to conquer my fear. I used to draw my dives over and over again. I’m the worst artist, so I’d draw step-by-step stick figures doing the dives I was going to do in practice. Once I got there, I had already done the dives 100 times on paper and in my mind.”