As they stood on the platform before their final dive at the Maria Lenk Aquatic Center in Rio on Monday, David Boudia and Steele Johnson recited Philippians 4:6, a bible verse concerning anxiety. The pair performed a back 2 ½ somersault with 2 ½ twists in the men’s 10-meter synchronized diving competition.

Team USA’s David Boudia, Steele Johnson Win Silver For Olympic Synchronized Diving

Then, they won the silver medal.

This marks the best-ever finish by an American duo in this event. It was Boudia’s second Olympic synchro medal and third overall– since he won synchro bronze and individual gold four years ago in London–while Johnson won his first Olympic medal of any kind.

The pair finished with a score of 457.11 behind gold medal winners Lin Yue and Chen Aisen of China and their Olympic-record score of 496.98.


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“We had no idea where we were (going into the final dive),” Johnson said. “We knew it was just another dive, it’s another back-twister. Knowing we left everything out there in the pool is all we can really do.”

A 4 1/2 tuck was the only fault of the afternoon for Boudia and Johnson. That dive caused them trouble in the preliminaries and semifinals of Olympic Team Trials earlier this summer before they nailed it in the final on route to earning a spot on the team.

Boudia, a three-time Olympian, won bronze in the same event with former partner Nick McCrory at the London 2012 Games. Johnson is a first-time Olympian who has teamed with Boudia since 2014. Both are former NCAA champions with Purdue University. Boudia, 27, used to drive the then 10-year-old Johnson to practice, and they now train together at Purdue, Boudia’s alma mater and Johnson’s current school. The two say there’s a brotherhood between them.

“This has been a phenomenal journey for both of us and I don’t think I would have been able to go through something like this without such a friend and a brother like Steele,” said Boudia.

Johnson added that while he appreciates having a gold medalist at his side, there is more to Boudia than simply awards.

“Even if David didn’t have an Olympic gold medal, he’d be the best person to take me along this Olympic journey,” said Johnson. “I’ve learned so much from this guy about diving, about life, about faith, about being a man that I wouldn’t be where I am today without this guy teaching me along the way.”

Johnson nearly didn’t make it to this day, suffering a head injury in 2009 that required 33 stitches and left him with memory loss. The incident almost cost him his life and forced him to quit the sport he loved.

“I could have stopped diving, I could have gone back to middle school and just been a normal kid and played different sports like football or soccer,” he said.

Boudia and Johnson will return to action to compete in the men’s individual 10-meter platform event, which begins Aug. 19.

It was a mix of excitement, joy, happiness, just all over the place,” Johnson said of his silver-medal win.

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – AUGUST 08: Silver medalists David Boudia and Steele Johnson of the United States celebrate on the podium during the medal ceremony for the Men’s Diving Synchronised 10m Platform Final on Day 3 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Maria Lenk Aquatics Centre on August 8, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

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