Michael Hixon’s parents watched him become an Olympian in person and from home

  • DAVE HIXON

  • MANDYHIXON

  • Michael Hixon and Samuel Dorman celebrate after winning the synchronized men's 3-meter springboard final at the U.S. Olympic diving trials Wednesday, June 22, 2016, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings) Darron Cummings

  • Michael Hixon and Samuel Dorman celebrate after winning the synchronized men's 3-meter springboard final at the U.S. Olympic diving trials Wednesday, June 22, 2016, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings) Darron Cummings

  • Samuel Dorman and Michael Hixon compete during the synchronized men's 3-meter springboard final at the U.S. Olympic diving trials Wednesday, June 22, 2016, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings) Darron Cummings

@kylegrbwsk
Published: 6/23/2016 8:49:35 PM

Dave Hixon watched his son become an Olympian in Indianapolis through a TV screen in Amherst.

Michael Hixon qualified for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janiero by winning the synchronized 3-meter diving event with his partner Samuel Dorman on Wednesday.

Dave coaches the Amherst College men’s basketball team and has won two Division III national championships.

Watching his son dive enervated him more than any close game.

“When I coach basketball, I can have an impact on the game. He’s by himself,” Dave said. “When the results come in, I get about seven to 10 minutes of reprieve until he comes up again.”

During those restful minutes, he watched the best divers in the country try to knock his son out of the Olympics.

None could.

Michael Hixon and Dorman held off defending Olympic bronze medalists Troy Dumais and Kristian Ipsen in the final.

The winning pair held a 56-point lead after the semifinals.

They needed at least 27.25 points on their final dive, a forward 4½ somersault tuck, to claim the single synchro team spot.

A 52.2 on an easier dive was their lowest score to that point.

The pair scored 75.24 to win and secure a spot in Rio.

“I wouldn’t let myself think about (going to the Olympics) before our last dive,” Michael said in a press conference. Due to his schedule, he was unavailable for comment.

His mother, Maddy Hixon, saw it all from the stands at the IU Natatorium at IUPUI.

“Unbelievable to see her after all this,” Michael said. “So much of this moment right now is because of her.”

Mandy Hixon coaches divers at UMass and has won 16 Atlantic 10 coach of the year awards for either men’s or women’s diving, or both.

She’s won at least one every year since 2008 and coached Michael until he was 18.

At the Olympic Trials, though, she’s just mom.

“I’m 100 percent mom here. My job is to make sure if he wants to go to dinner, we go to dinner,” she said. “If he needs a ride, I take him where he needs to go. It’s been calming.”

She’ll be along for the ride through Saturday, when Michael will compete in the men’s 3-meter final at 5:40 p.m.

He trails Ipsen by 7.05 points in second place and leads third-place Mark Anderson by 109.2 points.

The top two qualify for Rio.

Michael knows he’s already heading to Brazil in August but that doesn’t change his mentality for Saturday.

“He really wants the individual. I think he’ll be much more relaxed diving now that he is an Olympian already. That’s one of the weights that’s taken off his shoulders,” his father said. “He’s going to be ferocious. He’s not interested in finishing second.”

Dorman will go from teammate to competitor once the individual finals begin. He’s in fifth after the semifinals.

The competition won’t affect their synchro partnership.

“You want to see everyone light it up in finals,” Michael said. “The better the event is, the better for everybody.”

No matter how Saturday shakes out, they’re both Olympians.

They each received flowers and a blue glass trophy atop the podium on Wednesday.

“It’s unbelievable. I could see it on his face last night. You have to look for it, you have to know Michael,” Dave said. “When it was over and he was standing on the stands, all of the tension had melted from his face and it was all happiness.”

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at kgrabowski@gazettenet.com.




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