Gold-Medalist David Boudia: God is Perfect and Sovereign

David Boudia, Olympic diver. Photo from

By now, most of us would know David Boudia because of his gold-medal performance in the men’s platform diving in the Olympics. His victory was stunning, not only because he bested the favored Chinese diver, but also because he barely made it into the finals, just squeaking into the finals in eighteenth place. Boudia’s story is one of those Olympic tales that gladdens the heart and brings tears to the eyes. But there is more to his story than most of us know.

We got a hint of this larger story when Boudia was interviewed right after his disappointing performance in the prelims. Here’s the dialogue between NBC’s Alex Flanagan and Boudia:

Flanagan: Well, David, about as close as you can get, you make it into the semi-finals. Which of those dives, if any, would you take back?

Boudia: I mean, I wouldn’t take back any. It was a terrible prelim. But, you know, I was on the bubble. I got eighteenth. The coolest thing about this is that I know God is perfect and sovereign and if I made it great, if I didn’t, great. So I was totally content if I was on the bubble or out.

This comment goes beyond a winner giving credit to God. It shows a depth of faith that impressed me and made me wonder about David Boudia’s background. It turns out that he has not been a Christian for a long time. According to an article by Tim Ellsworth, after the 2008 Olympics, Boudia’s unhappiness led him into the “party scene” and then into depression. In the midst of his pain, he sought help from his coach, Adam Soldati, who shared the Gospel with Boudia. In a few weeks, Boudia put his faith in Christ and was baptized. He is a member of Faith Church in Lafayette, Indiana.

Kudos to David Boudia for his victory in London. And kudos to those who have helped him grow into mature, articulate discipleship.

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  • I’m wanting to make some pun about the platform becoming his platform, but I’ll resist. 

    Thanks for sharing this story, Mark. 

  • Steve

    And if Boudia had cratered in the finals, would anyone care?  Would his witness be less profound?  Somehow to me, getting the gold here means something less, strangely, than if he had faded into oblivion.   

  • The timing of his comments do make them more profound, more faithful, somehow.

  • markdroberts

    Steve, part of what I like about this story is that Boudia said what he did after a lousy (for him) performance and no special hope of victory. Why does his victory make his comment any less valuable or noteworthy? I’m curious.

  • Evan

    This reminds me of an often-overlooked part of the statement made by Daniel’s friends in Daniel 3:
    16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”
    “But even if he does not…” is the key for me. While I would grant that the reason they merited our attention is because they proverbially “won the gold” as events actually unfolded, it was not OUR attention they were seeking. They were victorious in their eyes by their refusal to serve other gods, whether or not they lived. Jesus was not speaking about the Olympics when He said that many who are last shall be first, but it certainly applies.
    Boudia’s statement that he would not take back a single dive, obviously including those he felt he failed in, at a time in which those poor dives presaged his ultimate defeat, is a very, very powerful statement. There are many dives in my own life I would like to take back, but Boudia has made me stop and consider that those very failures have helped make me who I am in God’s providence for me. Perhaps the me who nailed every dive perfectly would be insufferably arrogant and self-sufficient, possibly to the point of not needing (to quote a professor) “a silly myth about an executed carpenter.” While again I will grant that Boudia’s ultimate gold medal puts a certain perspective on his assertion that due to God’s perfection and sovreignty, he would not take back a single dive, there is a completely different perspective when Joni Erickson has said the same thing.

  • Evan

    I see that the Newest Newest Forum Software does not care a whit for paragraph breaks and other frivolities. Oh Well.

  • There are several athletes that I have been communicating with.  As with all, God will never help one athlete beat another, but He will help them execute and perform their best.  I believe He did so with David; and David’s best was good enough to win the gold.  We are here to find that connection and work together with Him at all hours using His strength.  We learn to favor the learning of love, and we love Him for His character alone.  All else finds its place thereafter.

  • That was the single most impressive interview I saw during the Olympics.