NOBLESVILLE — The opening ceremony for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics will kick off one month from today on July 23, and for those Olympic hopefuls, the pandemic threw a wrench into their training by postponing the competition for a year.
That includes Hoosier contenders of all ages and one young Olympic hopeful rose to the occasion and is now fourth in line for representing team USA in Tokyo for diving.
At IUPUI’s Natatorium, jumping on a trampoline is training for Hoosier divers, like Joshua Hedberg.
Hedberg, from Noblesville, is "throwing it down" already, at the age of just 14 years old. Now with wrist weights on and a calm focus on his mind, he’s diving directly into the sport.
From a 10-meter-tall platform, the practice on the trampoline helps with every single free fall into the water.
That includes dives that start from a handstand and follow turn into multiple twists.
“That’s when I do one and a half-twist, double, double-somersault, one-and-a-half twist,” Hedberg said. “That's probably one of my easier dives.”
In a sport with a lot of flips and twists, youth can be an advantage.
Now Hedburg is fourth in line to represent Team USA in the 10-meter individual diving competition. During the Olympic trials, he earned that his second reserve spot with his inward dive.
Hedberd said that includes, “spinning three-and-a-half-times.” Three-and-a-half times, with a speed of about 35 mph.
During the Olympic trials at IUPUI, judges gave Hedberg a 10 out of 10.
“I think in the old days they used to call it a 'perfect 10,'” Hedberg’s coach, Sean McCarthy with Indiana International School of Diving said.
He explained that score now means excellent.
“And then the crowd’s cheering. First crowd we've had it for well over a year,” McCarthy said.
Even more impressive, McCarthy said, “This was his first ten-meter event ever.”
“I just went out there and tried to have fun,” Hedberg said.
Due to the pandemic, McCarthy said Hedberg and all the divers here went six months without training in the water. In the meantime, there were six outdoor setups with trampolines and a dry diving board for the competitors to practice on.
One of which was in Hedberg’s yard.
“From the start of the pandemic I got a trampoline and dry board, in my backyard,” Hedberg said.
"And some of the neighbors gawked and wondered, 'What's, what's going on'? McCarthy said. "That's never happened before in my 30 years of coaching."
However unconventional, McCarthy said believes that may have helped some divers, like Hedberg.
“Of all the complaints and all the concerns and all the tough life stories. This one has a positive end to those who chose to continue to climb, and build their, their conditioning and flexibility and form,” McCarthy said.
Even Hedberg said taking virtual classes gave him more time to train.
“Yeah, well I get a lot better because it only takes it only took like a two or three hours instead of like a whole school day,” Hedberg said.
Looking back, McCarthy said Hedberg’s consistently exceeded at diving.
“Josh was fortunate to win all the events as an 11-and-under diver in USA diving,” McCarthy said.
The sport’s taken him international. In 2019, Hedburg competed in the Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile.
McCarthy said Hedberg follows a legacy of Olympic Hoosier divers.
“I can think of at least ten, whose names are up on the wall," he said.
Now at this young athlete’s age, Hedburg is rising above obstacles like this global pandemic.
“I couldn't have a greater vote of confidence in this current group I have, having been tested in unique ways in the last year,” McCarthy said.
Hedberg had one month to train for the Olympic trials earlier this month, he qualified for trials May 12, and the trials competition began June 6.
Now, Hedberg would go to the Olympics if the first and second place competitors get sick or injured. Those are Brandon Loschiavo, Jordan Windle, and David Dinsmore.
Regardless, Hedberg’s going to the Junior Pan American Games. It’s a brand-new event, that’s hosted in Colombia. Only eight Americans will represent our country in that competition.
Then, there’s the Junior National Championships at IUPUI, which is the qualifier for what will become the Junior Pan American Championships.