When David Boudia (pronounced Bo-DIE-ah) competed in the 2008 Olympics at age 21, he thought he had everything he wanted. He was on his way to representing the United States well in Beijing, but then he failed to get a medal in either the synchronized or individual diving events. After David came home and started college, he sunk into a deep depression that eventually led him to look for answers that were bigger than his diving career.
Since then, David’s life has changed dramatically. He became a Christian, received a gold medal in the 2012 Olympics, got married, and had child with his wife, Sonnie. We were curious about how he became a believer, what marriage has been like for him, and what it has been like to deal with adoring fans. In this interview, he has some pretty interesting answers to our questions.
1. Can you tell us how you came to believe in Jesus?
Growing up, I worshipped gods that provided a great deal of security, confidence and happiness — on the surface. It wasn’t until after the 2008 Olympic Games that my god came up short and left me abandoned. That’s what happens when your gods are things like your occupation and yourself. I believed I could do everything on my own if I just worked hard enough, but it turned out that my gods always overpromised and under-delivered.
In 2009, I was left flat on my face in a deep depression, where I could do nothing else but reach out for help. That was when God intervened and brought my coach, Adam Soldati, into my life to be His hands and feet. He shared the Gospel with me, and I found new hope in it. A few weeks later, after investigation and God slowly working in me, I gave my life to Jesus.
2. I was rooting for you in the 2012 Olympics, but I didn’t know anything about you. You stood out because you went from being 16th in the semifinals to getting the gold in the hotly-contested finals. But then you really stood out because after you won, a reporter asked you what happened, and you said something about how God is sovereign and He just worked it out for His glory. Do you feel pressure either to talk about God or not talk about God when you’re being interviewed in front of millions of people?
This is a really great question, because at first, I really did feel an enormous amount of pressure to squeeze something about God into my interviews. But that really showed me where I was in my walk with Jesus. I needed to realize that if He was my life, then I wouldn’t have to find a spot to mention Him — He would just be a natural part of my identity. So He has definitely matured me in this area a lot. I mean, I’m not perfect at giving interviews, but the difference is that now I just remind myself of my purpose when I go into an interview, and God comes up naturally in that.
3. What do you do during the day when you’re in between Olympics? I know you have competitions, but does practice and competing really keep you busy all week for four years?
Well, diving is my job. I practice four to five hours a day, plus treatments, which takes up most of the day. Besides that though, the way I provide for my family is through support in sponsorships, endorsements, and speaking engagements. So I work closely with my agent, Sheryl Shade, to strategize in order to make the most out of the short shelf life of an Olympian. Apart from that, I am actively involved in my local church where my wife, Sonnie, and I serve in the college ministry leading Bible studies and meeting with students to help equip them to apply the Gospel message to every part of their life.
4. You quickly went from a relatively obscure name to an Olympic celebrity, and along with that came some fawning on the internet that got pretty weird at times. How did it feel to have people dissect you in public like that?
Honestly, that was all I ever wanted when I was younger. Remember those gods I worshipped before meeting Christ? I wanted to be rich and famous because I thought that would provide me everything I would ever want. Well, God saw fit to expose me to fame and let me see just what it was like. At first, it was very strange and hard to have random people come up to me, because all I wanted after a few days was for it to all go away. I hated it. Now, I am able to see it as an opportunity to be a light and actually take interest in who comes up to me.
5. Was it hard moving from the Olympics, where people are always reaffirming how special you are, to marriage, which sometimes has a way of bringing your ego crashing down to earth?
Praise God for a wife that loves me enough to graciously speak truth into my life. I have such a great circle around me that allows me to keep perspective to what is really important. I mean, it’s amazing to be able to accomplish a childhood dream, but it’s even more amazing to know for what purpose that dream was accomplished for: His purpose, His glory, His fame.