First four U.S. Olympic individual diving berths awarded; Troy Dumais misses out

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — With one long hug and a few brief words, Troy Dumais asked Kristian Ipsen to carry on the legacy of American diving.

Ipsen smiled, Dumais choked back tears and now the two longtime synchro partners are heading in drastically different directions.

On Saturday, Ipsen and Michael Hixon took the two Olympic spots in men’s 3-meter, while Dumais’ bid to become the first U.S. man to dive in five Olympic Games came to an end.

“It was cool because he just said ‘You’re going to kill it,'” Ipsen said after winning with the event with a score of 1,452.75 points. “It’s pretty awesome. He’s been to four Olympics now, so for him to say that was like passing on the torch. It was a really cool moment.”

Jessica Parratto and Katrina Young enjoyed their day, too, making the U.S. team in women’s 10-meter. Young moved up two places on her final three dives to qualify.

VIDEO: U.S. Olympic Diving Trials

For Ipsen and Hixon, it was a bittersweet moment.

While Ipsen is headed to his second straight Olympics and will compete in Rio in his first individual event, he wanted to win another medal with Dumais in 3-meter springboard. They earned a bronze four years ago but finished second at the trials in an event that only had one spot available.

Hixon’s score of 1,385.45 assured him of qualifying in both 3-meter events but even the first-time Olympian kept his joy in check — knowing this would be the end of Dumais’ diving career.

“I just told him I loved him and thank you,” Hixon said. “We trained together at Texas for a year. He’s done a lot for USA Diving and he’s been a tremendous mentor to so many kids coming up that it seems like thank you doesn’t quite cut it.”

Fans at the Indiana University Natatorium felt the same way.

When the 36-year-old Dumais stepped onto the springboard for the final dive of his final event, already out of contention, the biggest crowd of the week roared so loud for so long that Dumais bent over, wiped his eyes and waved to the crowd before making that short jog one last time. He scored a 71.4 on the dive and wound up fourth overall at 1,287.4.

“What a way to go out, huh? A standing ovation in front of my family,” he said through reddened eyes. “It’s a dive I’ll always relive in my mind — standing on the board, seeing the people. It was actually hard to do.”

But as he has done so many times before, Dumais got the dive done and then graciously accepted his fate.

If anyone was to derail Dumais, he would have wanted it to be Ipsen, who made it look easy.

The semifinal leader extended his lead on three of the first four dives and sealed his spot when Hixon nearly smacked his back on the water and was given a 17.5 on his fourth dive.

The miss gave Dumais a brief opening, but Hixon rebounded with a 91.2 and a 95.2 on his final two dives to hold on.

“I’m very excited,” Ipsen said. “It’s been a really long week, a lot of ups and downs. It’s been super emotional, especially with Troy and his last dive. But I’m really happy it went the way it did for me today.”

Parratto led going into the finals and maintained her lead all night. She finished with a score of 1,030.05 to qualify for her second event this week. Parratto and Amy Cozad also will represent the U.S. in synchro 10-meter.

The fight for second was the most interesting competition all week.

Samantha Bromberg started the night in second, while Cozad was third and Young was fourth. Cozad jumped into the No. 2 spot after her first dive but Bromberg reclaimed it after her second dive. Bromberg fell to fourth after receiving a 37.95 on her third dive and Cozad faltered on her final two attempts, scoring 44.55 and 46.4.

Young, meanwhile, moved up with scores of 72.0, 62.8 and 76.8. She finished with a 982.1 to beat out Bromberg’s 958.4. Cozad finished fourth.

“It feels great, it hasn’t sunk in yet,” said Young, who had never finished higher than fourth at the NCAA championships. “Honestly, I felt like I really could do this for a long time.”

MORE: David Boudia, Steele Johnson win platform at U.S. Olympic Diving Trials

Sam Mikulak to retire from gymnastics after Tokyo Olympics

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Sam Mikulak, the U.S.’ top male gymnast, said he will retire after the Tokyo Olympics, citing a wrist injury and emotional health revelations during a forced break from the sport due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“It does sound like some pretty crazy news, but there’s a lot of factors that go into it,” Mikulak said in a YouTube video published Sunday night. “I’ve had a lot of time to think about it during quarantine.”

The 27-year-old is a two-time Olympian, six-time U.S. all-around champion and the only active U.S. male gymnast with Olympic experience.

Mikulak said he noticed significant wrist inflammation last year that was temporarily healed by a November cortisone shot. But during quarantine, the wrist worsened even though he wasn’t doing gymnastics. He took a month off from working out, but the wrist didn’t heal.

He thought for a time that he might not return to gymnastics at all. A doctor told him he would need cortisone shots for the rest of his career.

“At that point, it was really made for me that this has to be my final year of gymnastics because I don’t want to ruin myself beyond this sport,” Mikulak said.

Mikulak also noted realizations from the forced time out of the gym. He learned that he’s much less stressed while not doing gymnastics, a sport he began at age 2. Mikulak’s parents were gymnasts at Cal.

“For so long, I’ve been sacrificing, and I’m sick of it,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to being able to be free from gymnastics and being able to do all these things that I’ve been putting off in my life for so long.”

Mikulak realized a career goal in 2018 when he earned his first individual world championships medal, a bronze on high bar. He wants to cap his career with a first Olympic medal in Tokyo, then, perhaps, become a coach or open his own gym.

Mikulak recently got engaged to Mia Atkins, and they got another puppy, Barney.

“Everything I’ve done in gymnastics is enough for me right now,” said Mikulak, who plans to document the next year on YouTube. “I was actually somewhat happy that I was able to come to that type of decision because for so long I felt like gymnastics really wasn’t going to be fulfilling until I’ve gotten my Olympic medal. And during quarantine, I had this whole revelation where, you know what, I am happier than I’ve ever been in my entire life, and I’m not doing gymnastics, so even if I don’t accomplish these goals, I am still going to be so damn happy.”

MORE: Simone Biles’ closest rival chases comeback

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April Ross, Alix Klineman complete perfect, abbreviated AVP season

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April Ross and Alix Klineman consolidated their position as the U.S.’ top beach volleyball team, completing a sweep of the three-tournament AVP Champions Cup on Sunday.

Ross, a two-time Olympic medalist, and Klineman won the finale, the Porsche Cup. They won all 12 matches over the last three weekends, including the last 14 sets in a row, capped with a 21-18, 21-17 win over Kelly Claes and Sarah Sponcil in Sunday’s final.

“It feels like we’re midseason in a normal year,” Ross said on Amazon Prime. “I can’t believe it’s over.”

The AVP Champions Cup marked the first three top-level beach volleyball tournaments since March, and a replacement for a typical AVP season due to the coronavirus pandemic. The setting: on the Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center parking lot without fans and with many health and safety measures.

AVP is not part of Olympic qualifying. It’s unknown when those top-level international tournaments will resume, but Ross and Klineman, ranked No. 2 in the world, are just about assured of one of the two U.S. Olympic spots.

According to BVBinfo.com, they’re 10-0 combined against the other top U.S. teams — Claes and Sponcil and triple Olympic champion Kerri Walsh Jennings and Brooke Sweat, who are likely battling for the last U.S. Olympic spot.

Walsh Jennings and Sweat, who do not play on the AVP tour, have a lead for the last spot more than halfway through qualifying, which runs into June.

Earlier in the men’s final, Tri Bourne and Trevor Crabb kept 2008 Olympic champion Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena from sweeping the Champions Cup. Bourne and Crabb prevailed 21-17, 15-21, 15-12 for their first AVP title since teaming in 2018.

Bourne, who went nearly two years between tournaments from 2016-18 due to an autoimmune disease, and Crabb redeemed after straight-set losses to Dalhausser and Lucena the previous two weekends. Crabb guaranteed a title on Instagram days before the tournament.

“Those guys are the best in the world, and they make you look bad at times, but we’re relentless,” Bourne said on Amazon Prime. “You’re going to have to play the best volleyball in the world to beat us every time.”

Bourne and Crabb, Dalhausser and Lucena and Jake Gibb and Taylor Crabb (Trevor’s younger brother) are battling for two available U.S. Olympic spots in Tokyo.

MORE: Team Slaes looks to end Kerri Walsh Jennings’ Olympic career

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