Andrew Capobianco's dream became reality in Tokyo on Wednesday morning.
Capobianco, who grew up in Wantagh before moving to North Carolina, helped the U.S. earn its second diving medal at the Tokyo Olympics as he and Michael Hixon claimed the silver medal with 444.36 points in the men’s 3-meter synchronized springboard diving event. Hixon also won silver five years ago in Rio de Janeiro with a different partner.
China's Wang Zongyuan and Xie Siyi won gold with a total score of 467.82.
"It just doesn’t even feel real right now," Capobianco told Newsday in a phone interview from Tokyo. "I’m just really happy and feeling very blessed for the gifts that I’ve been given. And I’m just glad that all the hard work has paid off. I definitely couldn’t have gotten here without all of my support system — my family, all of my former and current coaches, my teammates — so it just feels unreal. I couldn’t have imagined this so I’m just really happy."
Capobianco, a first-time Olympian, and Hixon kept up their synchronization during the medals ceremony, turning left and right together before receiving their prizes on a tray because of COVID-19 restrictions. They took turns hanging their medals around each other's necks on the podium.
"It means so much to me and I know it means so much to everyone who has supported me through all this," Capobianco said. "There’s been so many people, big or small, who have just put so much of their heart into helping me achieve my goal and I’m just so thankful. Just having this dream become a reality, the only people I can think of are the ones who helped me get here today. It still feels unreal to me but I hope everyone else is celebrating."
The Mineola-born Capobianco became the first seventh-grader to win the Nassau diving championship when he was competing for Wantagh High School in 2012. His score broke the county record. He repeated as county champion and broke the record he set a year earlier as an eighth-grader. He moved to North Carolina and graduated from Holly Springs High School in 2017. He’s a seven-time All-American at Indiana University.
Capobianco first paired with Hixon, an Indiana alum, late in 2018 after Sam Dorman, who teamed with Hixon to win the silver medal in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, retired.
"Most people go to their first Olympics and it’s a learning experience," Mike Capobianco, Andrew’s father, said in a phone interview with Newsday from North Carolina. "And for him to go to his first Olympics, in his first event and win a silver medal is just a godsend. It really is. It’s something that we couldn’t dream in a million years. I can’t even say it’s a dream come true because it’s something that you can’t even dream about."
Even with a mistake that led to their lowest scoring dive, Wang and Xie, making their Olympic debuts, couldn't be caught. The Chinese led all the way, giving the diving powerhouse its third gold medal of the Tokyo Olympics.
"Basically we were just trying to go in and do the best six dives that we could do, and not really think about outcome or think about what everyone else is doing because we can’t control that," Capobianco said. "Just going in trying to perform our dives the best we could. And as we went into the competition I heard some mistakes being made by the other competitors and I just needed to keep my cool and remember what my goal was, to just hit my six dives. Just trying to be locked in and focus on myself."
Patrick Hausding and Lars Rudiger of Germany rallied from sixth to take bronze with 404.73 points. It was Hausding’s third Olympic medal — most by a German diver — after winning silver in 10-meter synchro in 2008 and bronze in individual springboard in 2016.
Evgenii Kuznetsov and Nikita Shleikher of the ROC were in medal contention when they failed on their last dive. Shleikher appeared to lose his way as he took off and hit the water on his stomach. As a result, they received zero points and finished last among eight teams.
Capobianco will have a chance for another medal when he competes in the individual 3-meter springboard, with preliminaries and semifinals on Monday and the medal round on Tuesday. (The prelims and the medal round begin at 2 a.m. Eastern, with the semifinals starting at 9 p.m., and will stream live at NBCOlympics.com)
"I’m feeling very confident in myself as a competitor," Capobianco said. "I haven’t been training my best since I’ve been here. I’ve just had to rely on what I’ve been doing back home and remember what I’ve learned over my diving career and it’s paid off for me. So I know that if I need to I can call up a pretty big performance and I’m just going to try to stay confident. I’m glad that we had a good performance today that kind of takes a little bit of the nerves off of the individual competition and hopefully I just go out and do my best."
With The Associated Press