In one of the "wow" moments of the 2012 Olympics, American David Boudia unleashed a stunning last dive to win the gold medal in the men's 10-meter platform diving in London. China's Qiu Bo, the heavy favorite, took silver and British superstar Tom Daley won the bronze.
"@davidboudia just won the Olympic Gold. Do I need to say any more?" American diver Nick McCrory tweeted after the event. McCrory finished ninth. Matthew Mitcham, the 2008 platform gold medal winner, was floored, tweeting: "@davidboudia DAVID YOU BLOODY MASSIVE LEGEND!!! MY HERO!!! Xx"
Boudia won by the barest of margins -- 1.8 points -- by scoring 102.6 on his sixth and final dive, the best of any diver in the competition. Qiu scored a 100.8 on his final dive. The two divers entered the final dive tied, trailing Daley by .15 points. The British diver managed a 90.75 on his final attempt, hurt by the fact that it was a lesser degree of difficulty than Boudia and Qiu's dives.
It was the first gold medal for any U.S. diver since 2000 and the first for an American man since Mark Lenzi won the springboard in 1992. Boudia was the first American man to win gold in the platform -- the sport's premier event -- since Greg Louganis in 1988.
Louganis was on hand to watch the competition, the first time he has been at an Olympics since 1996 (which he told me when Outsports interviewed him a week before the Games). He deserves some of the credit for the success of the American divers -- who won four medals -- having served as an athlete-mentor for U.S. diving since 2010. Divers credited him for being an invaluable mentor and role model.
"What an incredible competition," Louganis told USA TODAY after the event.
Boudia almost did not have a chance to dive Saturday. He was doing well in qualifying on Friday, then practically belly-flopped on his fourth dive (getting an awful 44 points) before rallying to become the 18th and final diver to earn a spot in the semifinals.
This is the second consecutive Olympics that an amazing final dive knocked the Chinese off the gold medal stand in the men's platform. Four years ago, it was Mitcham, whose win three months after coming out made him a hero in the gay community. Mitcham failed to make the finals this time, hobbled by an abdominal injury.