Michael Hixon wins bronze on 1-meter at FINA World Championships

By USA Diving | July 27, 2015, 3:59 p.m. (ET)

KAZAN, Russia – Michael Hixon (Amherst, Mass./Bloomington, Ind.) came from behind to win bronze in the men’s 1-meter competition Monday for Team USA’s first diving medal at the 2015 FINA World Championships. Kristian Ipsen (Clayton, Calif./Stanford, Calif.) finished sixth in that same event, while Amy Cozad (Indianapolis, Ind./Bloomington, Ind.) and Jessica Parratto (Dover, N.H./Bloomington, Ind.) were ninth in women’s synchronized 10-meter.

Hixon scored 428.30 points to edge Mexico’s Jahir Ocampo by 0.95 points for the 1-meter bronze, while China’s Xie Siyi finished with 485.50 points for the gold. Illya Kvasha of Ukraine took the silver with 449.05 points.

Hixon was ninth after four of six rounds but moved into the medal hunt after 70.50 points on a reverse 2 ½ 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 2 ½ tuck as his last dive in Friday’s preliminaries, upgraded to an inward 2 ½ 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 2 ½ 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 1 ½ 1 ½, 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 3 ½ tuck, putting him fourth behind Hixon. Kolodiy finished fifth.

USA’s Ipsen was sixth with 420.65 points. He was in 10th place with one round to go before finishing out with 86.40 points on a reverse 1 ½ with 3 ½ twists to move up to sixth in the final standings.

“I’m pretty satisfied, but I did leave a little bit on the table with my fifth dive. I can do that dive (reverse 2 ½ pike) better, and I thought I was going to hit it. I was moving really fast, but I got little too excited,” Ipsen said. “Overall, I’m really happy with both the prelims and finals on 1-meter, but I could have done a little better today.”

Cozad and Parratto scored 295.86 for ninth in the women’s synchronized 10-meter final. They were in 12th place after missing their third-round front 3 ½ pike for just 54.90 points but rallied back with 71.04 and 73.92 points on their last two dives – an inward 3 ½ tuck and a back 2 ½ with 1 ½ twists – to move up to ninth.

“There were some misses here and there on a few dives. There are definitely some things we could clean up, but this was our first big meet together. We’ll learn from it,” Parratto said.

China’s Chen Ruolin and Liu Huixia were first with 359.52 points, and Canadians Roseline Filion and Meaghan Benfeito finished second with 339.99 points. Kim Un Hyang and Song Nam Hyang of North Korea were third at 325.26. The three medalists qualified their countries a spot in the 2016 Olympic Games.

Diving events at the FINA World Championships continue through August 2. Ipsen and Sam Dorman (Tempe, Ariz./Coral Gables, Fla.) will compete men’s synchronized 3-meter on Tuesday. Hixon next dives in the individual men’s 3-meter event on Thursday, while Parratto and Cozad are set to dive in Wednesday’s individual women’s 10-meter event.