Andrew Capobianco and Michael Hixon pose during the medal ceremony for the Men's Synchro 3-meter Springboard final on July 28, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan.
TOKYO – Michael Hixon kissed the base of the diving tower after he and partner Andrew Capobianco won the silver medal in men’s 3-Meter Synchronized Diving at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
“It felt like the last dive ever – maybe -so I was just saying thanks,” said Hixon, 27, who is pursuing an MBA at Michigan.
Well, if it was a farewell, Hixon went out in style with Capobianco at his side at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre.
This was the second straight Olympic silver medal in the event for Hixon, who teamed up with Sam Dorman in Rio five years ago. It was also the third straight medal for Team USA, with Troy Dumais and Kristian Ipsen winning the bronze in London in 2012.
When Dorman retired in mid-2018, Hixon, who dove for Indiana University, didn’t have to look far to see a freshman All-American as a potential new partner.
“It feels incredible, I’m so proud of him,” Hixon said. “The way that we performed as a team, the way that we came together… We were both in Bloomington, and I just turned to Cap and asked him to get to that level and he did an incredible job. He worked his butt off. He became one of the best synchro divers in the world and I couldn’t be more proud of the work he’s done to get there.”
Capobianco, 21, who was an elite junior gymnast before switching to diving full-time, said training with a veteran like Hixon helped him hone his craft.
“It was just great to have the best diver in the country in your pool every day, just to have him to look up to and learn from,” Capobianco said. “He’s taught me so much about competing and just being a world-class diver.”
Capobianco and Hixon were calm and consistent to score 444.36 points, trailing only Zongyuan Wang and Siyi Xie of China, who scored 467.82 points and had the only 10s of the competition
Beginning with the first of four “optional” dives — the harder dives on their list — Hixon and Capobianco moved into second place following their forward 2 ½ somersaults with 2 twists from the pike position, in which they scored 83.64 points.
Hixon came through on a dive that had been vexing him, the critical reverse 1 ½ somersaults with 3 ½ twists, in the fourth round.
Then Capobianco was stellar on the inward 3 ½ somersaults, with their scores including 9.0s for synchronization.
“I’ve kind of been struggling with the inward since I’ve been here,” Capobianco said, “so it was nice to see MIke hit the gainer twist and me hit the inward and it just set us up pretty well for the last round.”
“Andrew smoked his inward,” Hixon said.
They then trailed China 368.64 to 355.44, going into their forward 4 ½ somersaults tuck. They were solid on the dive, then had to wait to see how the other seven teams performed.
“It’s diving; anything can happen,” Hixon said. “You’ve just got to wait and see. Obviously (the Chinese divers) stepped up. Congrats to them. They were incredible the whole day.”
Capobianco will continue an outstanding season in which he was the NCAA 3-meter champion for Indiana by competing in the individual 3-meter event at the Olympic.
“It definitely makes me confident going into individual,” he said, “and I’m happy that the judges were able to see a little bit more of me heading into there. I’m just going to take it one step at a time and it definitely takes a little bit of the nerves off, but at the same time I do have expectations for individual as well.”
After the Olympics, Capobianco may have to find a new synchro partner. “We’ll see, we’ll see,” Hixon said.
Does he have any tips for how Capobianco might pick the right diver to perhaps take him to another Olympic medal?
“He doesn’t need my help,” Hixon said. “He’ll be all right.”
“I’m going to try to keep it in the (Indiana) family,” Capobianco said.