In this segment of Blogging with an Olympian, Waste Management’s Justin Wilcock comments on the USA Diving team’s synchronized diving performance and some of the challenges required to be an Olympian. We will continue to blog through the Olympics, and we encourage readers to share their questions and comments.
Describe what it’s like for an Olympic athlete during the first full week of competition.
Now that the games are really under way, it’s a time for athletes to get into competition mode. Getting enough rest and down time are important as the training has been done. It’s time to perform.
What were some of your thoughts during the synchronized diving events?
I’ve been really excited for the synchronized diving events to get started. We have been declining since our dominance in the sport of diving ended in the ‘80s. This culminated with USA Diving coming home with zero medals in the 2004 and 2008 Olympics. We recently hired a new high performance director to help turn this around. One major focus he has had is on synchronized diving. As the first diving events, this will set the tone for the games.
One of my former teammates Kelci Bryant and her partner Abby Johnston were the first up this week. They were actually the only event picked by Sport Illustrated to medal for USA Diving. They started the event strong, were very consistent and in the end won a silver medal, ending the eight-year drought for USA Diving! This was huge as it lifted a lot of pressure for the rest of the divers. Instead of worrying about getting the first medal, everyone else could focus on competing.
This proved to be true, and we are now 3-for-3 after the synchronized events, getting one silver and two bronze. This was a wonderful achievement for USA Diving as it shows that we are on the right track. I’m thrilled for all of our synchronized diving teams!
How’d you feel about Troy Dumais and Kristian Ipsen medaling?
I’m so excited for Troy and Kristian! Troy has persisted through four Olympic games and finally got his medal! Kristian (from nearby Clayton, CA) is young, but has a lot of international experience. It’s great that he was able to withstand the pressure of the games and come away with a medal at his first Olympics! He dove great and looked very confident. He has a great career ahead of him, and I look forward to seeing him on the podium again in Rio (2016 Olympics)!
Did you get a chance to talk to them after?
I wasn't able to speak with Troy or Kristian, other than leaving them a message on their Facebook page, but I did speak with Kelci right after she won her silver medal. She was so excited but also exhausted after a full day of media interviews (they are superstars now!). She was also getting ready for an early morning appearance on the Today Show. Oh, the life of an Olympic medalist!
This really is the payoff for these athletes though. You work so hard for years and do so without much in return. Most Olympians don't make money in endorsements and don't get paid to compete. In fact, most sacrifice a lot to be ready for the games and represent their country. Many of us train full time during the day, and work in the evenings to make a living. It’s great to get some limelight and hopefully some endorsements from their successes!
When your Olympic event was completed, how’d you spend your time?
I was able to spend some time with my family, do some sightseeing and watch some of the other events. It’s hard as you still have teammates competing so you have to be careful not to distract them. I know some teams have some rules around staying out late to help prevent this. We were required to be at all of the events cheering on our teammates. They need the support as well, and some of them have to compete through the very end of the games. I know David Boudia and Nick McCrory, synchronized platform bronze medalists, actually left the village to go to an off-site training area away from London, so that they could train and prepare for their individual competitions without the distractions.
On average, how many dives did you make a year when you were preparing for the Olympics?
Most divers will perform around 25,000 practice dives in the water. This is in addition to a number of somersaults that are performed in a gym on the floor, trampoline and a diving board set up over a landing mat. There is a cool commercial with David Boudia that talks about this.
Blogging with an Olympian is blog series written by Waste Management employees Justin Wilcock and Joe Camero. A resident of Pleasanton, Wilcock is a Waste Management LEED Green Associate and Construction Service Account Manager. He assists contractors, builders, and architects meet their diversion/recycling goals. Wilcock also serves on the Board of Directors of USA Diving, and he is the AAC (Athletes’ Advisory Council) Representative for USA divers. A former sports editor for the Southwestern Sun, Camero is a Waste Management Communications Specialist.
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