Michael Hixon falls short of second medal, places 10th in individual 3M springboard

  • United States' Mike Hixon competes during the men's 3-meter springboard diving final in the Maria Lenk Aquatic Center at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2016. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E) Wong Maye-E

  • United States' Mike Hixon competes during a men's 3-meter springboard diving preliminary in the Maria Lenk Aquatic Center at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Monday, Aug. 15, 2016. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn) Michael Sohn

  • United States' Mike Hixon competes during the men's 3-meter springboard diving preliminary round in the Maria Lenk Aquatic Center at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Monday, Aug. 15, 2016. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E) Wong Maye-E

  • Silver medalists United States' Sam Dorman, right, and Mike Hixon pose after the men's synchronized 3-meter springboard diving final in the Maria Lenk Aquatic Center at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2016. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham) Matt Dunham

  • United States' silver medalist Mike Hixon, bites his medal while looking at supporters after the men's synchronized 3-meter springboard diving final in the Maria Lenk Aquatic Center at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2016. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E) Wong Maye-E

For the Gazette
Published: 8/16/2016 9:56:12 PM

The same dive that earned Michael Hixon a medal in 3-meter synchro at the Rio Olympics, denied him one in 3-meter individual springboard on Tuesday.

The 22-year-old Amherst native had two dives left in the competition when he attempted the 109C — the high-risk, high-reward dive that Hixon and his partner Sam Dorman pulled off almost flawlessly the week before.

This time, his entry into the water was off, warranting a 62.70 points from the judges, making it his second lowest score of the night.

“I feel like I underperformed pretty seriously,” Hixon said. “I missed probably three out of six dives so there’s a lot more to be done.”

Hixon placed 10th out of 12 divers with a final score of 431.65.

China’s Cao Yuan rolled to a gold medal with 547.60 points. Jack Laugher of Britain earned silver with 523.85, while German Patrick Hausding took bronze at 498.50.

Hixon didn’t get a strong start to the finals, finishing in 11th place after the first round. Laugher and Yuan quickly established themselves as the divers to beat, consistently earning scores in the high 80s and 90s throughout the six rounds.

In the semifinal round held Tuesday morning, Hixon earned high marks on his first three dives to propel him to first place. He faltered on his fourth dive to drop back, but he finished fourth to advance to the finals.

But with medals at stake, every diver upped their performance. Hixon’s semifinal round score of 467.25 points, which was 1.10 shy of third place, would’ve landed him in seventh in the finals.

Following his poor start to the finals, Hixon tried to make a comeback, earning his highest scores on his second and third dives.

“(I’m) never out of the fight,” Hixon said. “That’s the way I always compete, every single dive. I felt like I was in the fight during that round and the one after that too.”

He surged forward to sixth place, but lost his momentum. With only three dives left, Hixon scored 60s and 70s on dives that earned him 80s during the semifinal round.

Consistency “is the name of the game,” Hixon said. “At this level, everybody can do big dives. It’s all about what’s going on up here in your brain.”

Following the event, Hixon took the loss in stride, acknowledging the mistakes he made out on the springboard.

“Obviously (there are) things I could’ve done better,” Hixon said. “But (it was) a great experience. I took a lot away from it.”

Hixon and his teammate Kristian Ipsen, who finished fifth (475.80), were the only divers in the final from the same country. The former synchronized diving partners reflected on what it meant for the U.S. to have a strong presence in the finals.

“I just hope that we inspire kids who want to dive,” Hixon said. “That’s basically what it’s all about, just inspiring younger generations.”

When he returns to the Indiana University in the fall, Hixon said he’ll have his sights on a second medal in Tokyo in 2020.

“I have two more years of eligibility left at IU and (competing in Tokyo) will be the goal,” he said.