RIO DE JANEIRO – Abby Johnston and Sam McGrath had what you’d call a “meet cute.”
Johnson was a silver medalist in the London Olympics and is a returning member of the USA Diving team in Rio. She’s also a medical student at Duke University, where McGrath is an assistant coach for the Blue Devils football team.
Last October, she lost her Duke Student ID in a parking lot. McGrath found it.
“He emailed me and told me he had it, and then we met up the next day and … I was like, ‘he’s so cute.’ He asked me on a date, and we’ve been together ever since,” said Johnston.
Three weeks ago, Johnston was catching some rest and relaxation before the Rio Olympics at McGrath’s family beach house in Connecticut. They went for a walk on the beach.
“All of a sudden there was a sunflower in the sand. And I love sunflowers, he always gets me sunflowers. So I go ‘how random?’ and I look closer,” she said.
“And my Student I.D. was sitting in that flower pot. He had covered my last name with his last name. I turned around, and he got down on one knee and proposed.”
A photo posted by Abby Johnston (@abbyljohnston) on Jul 10, 2016 at 6:15pm PDT
Johnston, 26, won silver in the synchronized 3-meter springboard in London with partner Kelci Bryant, and is participating in the individual 3-meter event in Rio. Obviously, she’s looking to capture a medal … although she was frustrated to discover she won’t be capturing any Bulbasaurs or Magikarps in Rio.
Like many other Olympians, Johnston was playing Pokémon Go! on her phone before heading to the Games, and was stunned to discover the game hasn’t reached Brazil yet. “I was like, ‘I’m gonna catch all the rare Pokémon in Brazil!’ and they were like ‘they don’t have it there,’” she said.
She wasn’t just looking to boost her trainer level, by the way: Johnston believes that we’d have had an Olympic Village full of Pokémon hunting athletes if the game was available.
“It would have been awesome. There’s a cool little park in the middle. Fountains and a soccer field,” she said.
Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes has made a plea to the game’s creator to bring it to Brazil for the Olympics. There are rumors it could arrive during the Games, which would be fine by Johnston.
“It would be so nice to be chasing some Pokémon around,” she said.