Mizzou Diver Fights Injuries and Looks Towards Olympics
COLUMBIA -- He might be the most decorated athlete on Missouri's campus you've never heard of. David Bonuchi won three state high school diving championships while at Hickman.
The Mizzou sophomore also owns more than a handful of Junior National Titles, but the latest accomplishment beats them all.
Bonuchi knows a lot about comebacks, since last August, it's all he's done.
"He was twisting and spinning and got lost in the air and landed sideways on the water off the 10 meter and actually ruptured his eardrum," Head Diving Coach Jamie Sweeney said.
It took about a month to recover from the eardrum, but other injuries followed.
"He grabbed his hands just a little bit funny and ended up breaking his thumb," Sweeney said. "I think is was the day before he was supposed to get his split off, he injured his hand. We call him Mr. Glass. He just thinks about getting hurt and he's injured."
So the diver prepared for the biggest meet of the year, the USA National Championships, by staying dry.
"It doesn't allow me to do anything besides dry land, which is just conditioning, jumps and flips without water time," Bonuchi said.
"I'm coaching him as he models his dives on each level of the diving board, but we can't actually do dives head first into the water," Sweeney said.
Bonuchi faced more adversity in the preliminaries. Against the top 36 divers in the country, he was winning after the first two rounds.
"I fell off the board on my 3rd dive and in my mind I was like, there is no way to come back," Bonuchi said.
But Sweeney had a message for the diver he's coached for the past eight years.
"I told him we're not giving up yet. We're not done. When you have the ability to get 9's on your last three dives, the meet's not over," Sweeney said.
"You've gotten this far. Why throw it away where there's always that chance some other people might mess up and you can slip in," Bonuchi added.
Bonuchi avoided more slips, as he bounced, flipped and twisted his way into the finals.
"By the time the finals came around I think everybody and their brother wanted him to win the meet," Sweeney said.
He finished with a gainer twister and clinched the USA Men's 1 Meter Diving National Championship.
"It was the meet with the best of the best and under adverse conditions he was able to come out with the win," Sweeney said. "You don't have to know anything about diving to watch that nationals and see that's one of the greatest comebacks I've ever seen in any sport."
He faces long odds to splash into the summer olympics, but don't ever count Bonuchi out.
"There's always that opportunity for me to squeeze in there this year, but in my mind I'm looking forward and thinking 2016," Bonuchi said.
Next up for Bonuchi, the Big 12 Championships, then the NCAA's, and in early summer, the Olympic trials where he'll compete in the 10 meter platform, and the three meter individual and synchronized.
The Big 12 Swimming and Diving Championships are in Columbia next week, February 22-25.