American diver David Boudia believes the U.S. team can challenge China’s stars for gold medals in their home pool at the world aquatic championships starting this weekend in Shanghai.
The U.S. has struggled to keep pace with China since the late 1980s, when four-time Olympic gold medalist Greg Louganis retired.
The Americans were shut out of the medals at the last two Olympics, while the Chinese won 13 golds.
Boudia said the Americans are ready for the competition. He won a silver medal at the 2009 world championships in Rome in the 10-meter synchronized diving event with partner Thomas Finchum.
“Everyone around the world knows how dominant the Chinese have been, but with that said, we’re really ready for this competition,” Boudia said. “The world championships always paints a different picture — you never know what’s going to happen.”
The U.S. finished a distant second to China in the diving medal count at the 2009 world championships, winning just four silvers to China’s seven golds, four silvers and three bronzes.
The Americans are not alone in chasing China. Canada, Germany, Britain, Australia and Italy have also emerged to contend for medals, though none has yet to challenge China.
In an attempt to boost their results, the Americans have sought to learn from the Chinese in recent years.
“If you look at our diving team now compared with four years ago going into Beijing, we’ve grown tremendously,” he said.
It shows “how much help we’ve had, studying video from the Chinese, asking Chinese coaches to come over and help mentor us.”
Veteran Troy Dumais said he hopes the hard work finally pays off with a gold medal in his eighth — and last — world championships. The 31-year-old Dumais, who has four silvers and a bronze from prior world championships, plans to retire after the 2012 London Olympics.
“Everybody on this team has hit their dives just as well as everybody else in the world. It’s the timing — can you put it together, will you put it together?” said Dumais, who is competing in the individual and synchronized 3-meter springboard events.
“This is one of the best world championship teams I’ve ever been on, and I’ve been through quite a few of them.”
The world championships begin on Saturday with the diving program. The swimming competition starts the following weekend and lasts through July 31.