Amherst native Michael Hixon comes from behind to win bronze in 1-meter diving at world championships



Last modified: Thursday, July 30, 2015

KAZAN, Russia — Michael Hixon had quite the comeback for his first diving medal at the senior international level.

The Amherst native was in 10th place at one point but rallied to win bronze in the men’s 1-meter springboard at the FINA World Championships Monday.

China’s Xie Siyi won the event with 485.50 points, easily outdistancing silver medalist Illya Kvasha of Ukraine, who totaled 449.05. Hixon had 428.30 points.

Hixon edged Jahir Marroquin Ocampo of Mexico by 0.95 points to earn Team USA’s first diving medal of the championships. Hixon, who was a two-time NCAA champion as a freshman at Texas but has since transferred to Indiana University, fumbled to be heard at the medalists’ news conference.

“Obviously by my microphone skills I’m not here very often,” he said.

Hixon was ninth after four of six rounds in the finals but moved into the medal hunt after earning 70.5 points on a reverse 21/2 tuck that put him in fifth heading into the last round. He was 13.5 points out of the bronze medal spot with one round to go and his most difficult dive still remaining.

“I just tried to go one dive at a time, especially in those last two rounds when I was about 20 points out. I kept fighting. I just wanted to do six dives the best I could. Other things are out of my hand as far as how other divers do or how the judges score,” said Hixon, who became the first U.S. man to medal on 1-meter at a world championships since four-time Olympian Troy Dumais won silver on the event in 1998.

Hixon, who used an inward 21/2 tuck as his last dive in Friday’s preliminaries, upgraded to an inward 21/2 pike for the finals. The tuck carries a degree of difficulty of 3.1, while the pike has a DD of 3.4.

“There’s more risk, but more reward,” said Hixon, who finished ninth in the preliminaries to qualify for the finals.

The decision paid off, as Hixon earned mostly 8s and 8.5s for 83.30 points on the inward 21/2 pike. It was enough to surpass Ocampo and Ukraine’s Oleg Kolodiy, who also received 8s and 8.5s on their final dives but had a lower degree of difficulty to allow Hixon to overtake them.

“I’m a scoreboard watcher for sure. I knew Oleg Kolodiy from Ukraine was in third, but he was doing a reverse 11/2 11/2, which is 2.6 (DD). After he goes 65 points on it, I knew I was still in the game. When I hit my dive and I saw the scores, I was pretty happy. I walked over to (coach Drew Johansen) and said, ‘Are you thinking fourth?’ He said, ‘Let’s wait on Mexico.’”

It was worth the wait. Ocampo was the final diver of the contest, and he finished with 70.50 points on a front 31/2 tuck, putting him fourth behind Hixon. Kolodiy finished fifth.

Diving events continue through Sunday. Hixon next dives in the individual men’s 3-meter event on Thursday.

Hixon did not qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro with his performance. The 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials will be held June 18-26, 2016 at the Indiana University Natatorium on the campus of IUPUI in Indianapolis. The trials will determine which divers represent the United States in Rio de Janeiro.


 

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