GWANGJU, South Korea – The U.S. locked up two more Olympic quota spots for 2020 after David Boudia (West Lafayette, Ind.) and Michael Hixon (Amherst, Mass./Bloomington, Ind.) advanced to the men’s 3-meter finals at the FINA World Championships. Boudia was fourth and Hixon 12th in Wednesday’s semifinal to move on to Thursday’s final and qualify the United States for the 2020 Olympic Games.
Boudia and Hixon made it through a four-hour, 57-diver preliminary and then came right back for the semifinal. Boudia finished the semis with 464.20 points, while Hixon qualified with 428 points for the last spot into the final.
“Obviously a huge goal coming here was to get top 12 and that gets us the Olympic spots for the team. It was a battle all day. I don’t think you can have a more difficult challenge in diving than when you have a four-hour prelim and then an hour and a half later have to turn around and dive in the semis,” Hixon said. “I think everyone’s pretty exhausted, but it was good to get out of there with the spots.”
Boudia scored 70 points or higher on all six dives, with his last two – a reverse 3 ½ tuck and a reverse 1 ½ with 3 ½ twists – each going for 84 points. A four-time Olympic medalist in platform events, Boudia stepped up to challenge as he continued his transition to springboard with his eye on making a fourth Olympic team. He lacked the degree of difficulty that many of his competitors had, but still finished fourth in the semifinal. Of the 12 divers advancing to the final, Boudia was the only one who didn’t perform a front 4 ½ tuck. Seven divers advancing to the final had at least two dives with a degree of difficulty of 3.6 or higher on their lists; Boudia had none.
“I think it definitely helps boost my confidence to know where I stacked up. I wasn’t training super amazing, but I also know I was fourth in the semifinals and I don’t have the big DD dives yet. This fall, that’s what we’ll be focused on and hopefully then there won’t be an 80-point gap between first and fourth,” Boudia said.
And while Boudia was close to finishing in the top three in the semifinals, a medal isn’t necessarily his goal at his first World Championships in a 3-meter event.
“It was a long day, but we got the job done. Both Mike Hixon and I got the spots for the United States, so tomorrow we just go into finals and see what we can do,” Boudia said. “It was a good learning experience today and then (in finals), it’s anyone’s game. Honestly, I have no expectations. Obviously top three would be great, but my goal coming into this was getting a spot for the United States.”
Diving events at the FINA World Championships continue through July 24. Thursday’s competition begins with Sarah Bacon (Indianapolis, Ind./Minneapolis, Minn.) and Brooke Schultz (Fayetteville, Ark.) in the women’s 3-meter preliminary, with the semifinal to follow. Boudia and Hixon will compete in the men’s 3-meter final on Thursday evening.