David has been featured in many print publications, internet and television media including:
David has also spoken at several schools, corporate engagements and religious events.
The 1996 Olympics were the first ones I can remember watching, when I was 7 years old. I was competing in gymnastics myself at the time, so watching the Magnificent Seven win the first U.S. gold medal in the women’s team competition stoked my competitive fires. From that point forward, competing in the Olympics became my focus, my dream, my god. I was going to be an Olympian. Not only that, I was going to win, and I would revel in the fame and the celebrity it brought.
Even though I didn’t know the Lord at that time, God had given me the ability to be super disciplined and the desire to work extremely hard to accomplish a goal. I shifted my focus from gymnastics to diving a few years later, and in 2004 I narrowly missed making the Olympic team. Then in 2008, at age 19, I had my chance. I qualified for Beijing. My dream was coming true.
In reality, the dream was more like a nightmare. It nearly ruined my life. My synchronized diving partner and I failed to make the podium early in the Beijing Olympics, and that was a reality check. I decided to invest everything in my individual event a few days later, near the end of the Games – all my thoughts, all my energy, everything. I locked myself in my room and kept away all outside distractions. I attended few events. I was at the Olympics, but I saw the inside of my room in the Olympic Village more than I experienced the whole Olympic atmosphere. Still, I figured that was a small price to pay for the immortality that would soon be mine after I medaled in my individual event.
Instead of medaling, I finished 10th. I failed. I’ve never cried as much as I did after that event. I let my country and USA Diving down. I thought I had disappointed my team, my parents, and everyone who had invested in me. I didn’t get what I set out to accomplish, so I felt like a complete and utter failure. At a dinner party after my event, everyone was eating and having fun. I locked myself in a bathroom stall and bawled for an hour.
That’s what happens when your god betrays you.
The Olympics didn’t supply me with any joy. They didn’t provide the happiness that I thought they were going to bring. It was like a punch in the gut. My world was completely shaken.
After Beijing, I decided to try to put the Olympics behind me and get a fresh start as a freshman at Purdue. Because I didn’t go to a “normal” high school and didn’t have many “normal” relationships during my teenage years, I tried to make up for that by getting as many friends as I could. The only way I knew how to do that was living the party lifestyle. That’s an easy thing to do on a college campus. Though I was battling depression, I was able to mask it by trying to be the popular guy on campus. Since people knew I was an Olympian, this was a chance for me to get the fame and the glory that I craved.