UPDATE: June 8, 2021
Johnson was forced to withdraw from all competition at the U.S. Olympic Diving Trials, citing an ongoing injury to his foot. As a result, he will not compete at the Tokyo Olympics. His announcement, via Instagram, details his injury struggles:
At Rio 2016, Steele Johnson won an emotional silver medal alongside David Boudia in the synchronized 10m springboard event. Since Rio, head injuries have forced Boudia down to the 3m springboard, and Johnson has joined him in the discipline to chase another Olympic synchro medal. Individually, the 24-year-old Indiana native, now arguably the most well-rounded American male diver, has sights on a multi-discipline Olympic appearance.
As part of our preparation for the Olympic Games in Tokyo, NBC Olympics sent questionnaires to a wide range of athletes to learn more about their lives on and off the field of play.
Here’s some of what we found out about Steele Johnson:
Tell us about your family.
I am married to Hilary Johnson, who is a full-time destination wedding photographer.
I have two parents, Bill and Jill Johnson, who live in Carmel, Ind. I have an older brother, Race Johnson, and a younger sister, Hollyn Johnson.
Where did you go to college?
I graduated from Purdue University in May of 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in Film & Video Studies. I competed three seasons for Purdue University.
What is your job outside of athletics?
I am a part-time freelance videographer for weddings and events. I also create internet content for YouTube and Instagram part time.
What does a typical training day look like?
I spend roughly five to six hours doing actual training, with short breaks and video study in between training sessions. I typically am doing a mix of dryland, weightlifting and diving from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Saturday's are typically just weightlifting at 8 a.m. I sleep between eight and 10 hours every night.
What's your favorite workout?
I enjoy workouts that involve a lot of hard dives on 3m springboard. These workouts are not mentally challenging, but more physically challenging that leave me with a sense of accomplishment at the end every time.
What's the most grueling workout you've ever done?
Some of the toughest workouts are the ones where I do hundreds of basic dives in the pool. The dives are easy, but spending three to four hours on simple skills can often be the most physically and mentally challenging workouts.
What is something surprising about your training?
People would be shocked to know just how much dryland I do. When you think of diving, you think of water, but the majority of my workouts are done on land, trampoline, or in the mats.
Do you use any out of the ordinary/experimental training methods?
We have tried using body sensors in the past to measure how we can increase our jump or spin rate, but now-a-days the only technology I use is a video camera.
Please describe your toughest injuries and the recovery.
2006: I broke my right wrist, and every knuckle on my right hand.
2009: I hit my head on the 10m platform. This injury left me with 33 staples and a drain in my head. After 1.5 months away from the sport, I was able to make a full recovery and eventually used that same dive to win an Olympic silver medal in the 2016 Olympics.
2015-2019: In 2015, I learned I had a broken foot. Instead of getting surgery, I pushed through the pain and competed at the 2016 Olympics a year later with that same broken foot. In September of 2018, I had surgery to fix a new break in that same bone, but the surgery had bad side effects. The screws put in my foot caused an allergic reaction and I ended up having a second surgery on that same foot in February of 2019. I am still dealing with pain in the foot but have since competed at the World Championships and Pan Am Games while in recovery. My foot is no longer broken, but the residual pain is there.
What constitutes your nutrition plan?
Typically, I try to eat close to 3,500 calories per day to maintain my body weight of 175 lbs. This consists of eggs/bagel/cheese for breakfast, turkey sandwiches and yogurt for lunch, and usually some type of chicken salad for dinner. In between every meal I eat one or two protein bars to maintain energy during training.
What’s your earliest memory participating in your sport?
Due to my head injury from 2009, I do not remember much of my diving career before that point. That being said, I still can remember going to the neighborhood pool and diving off of the board and loving it. As I got more invested in the sport, I loved being able to watch footage of Mark Lenzi dive, and then eventually I got the chance to be coached by him for a short time.
Do you participate in any other sports?
It's not so much of a sport for me, but I ride a skateboard and watch a lot of skate competitions to see Shaun White and Nyjah Huston compete. Skating gives me something to grow in that is not diving but is still physically demanding. I love skating in high school and haven't been able to do it until recently due to my foot injuries.
Do you have a nickname?
Stove. My old teammate called me this at training, everyone laughed, and for the past four years I've been known as "Stove" around the pool.
What would you be doing if not an athlete?
I would love to be a documentarian. I got my film degree in college with the hopes of creating meaningful documentaries after my diving career ends.