Andrew Capobianco already had the talent to become an elite diver when he arrived at Indiana University in 2017. All he needed was the guidance and motivation.
They’re qualities he found with the help of teammate and Olympic silver medalist Michael Hixon.
“I think a lot of it was having someone to look up to and chase in practice a little but,” the Holly Springs native said in an interview posted on USADiving.com. “It was just great to have the best diver in the country in your pool to look up to and learn from. He’s taught me so much about competing and becoming a world class diver and I’m just so thankful.”
Wednesday, Capobianco used the lessons he learned from Hixon to become an Olympic silver medalist himself.
And he did it side-by-side with his now-former Hoosiers teammate.
The pair compiled a score of 444.36 for their five dives to place second in the men’s synchronized 3-meter springboard event at the Tokyo Games. The Chinese duo of Zungyan Wang and Siyi Xie won the gold medal with a score of 467.82.
Capobianco and Hixon got off to a slow start in the competition at Tokyo Aquatics Center, sitting in just seventh place after the first two dives. But they scored big with a forward 2 1/2 somersault, two twist effort on dive No. 3 to jump all the way into second, where they stayed for the remainder of the meet.
As excited as Capobianco is about winning a silver medal, his performance in the synchronized event could turn out to be a springboard (pun intended) to even bigger and better things for him heading into the upcoming individual competition.
“This definitely gives me a little more confidence heading into the individual competition,” he said in a post-event interview. “I’m happy that the judges got to see a little bit more of me and I’m going to take it one step at a time. It definitely takes some of the nerves off but at the same time I do have expectations for individuals as well.”
Hixon said he never had any doubts that his younger teammate could reach such a high level.
“I just turned to Cap and asked him to get to that level,” he said of Capobianco, a former U.S. Junior gymnastics champion before becoming a diver “He did an incredible job and he worked his butt off and he became one of the best synchro divers in the world.”
________________________________Gold Silver Bronze Total
USA 11 11 9 31
China 12 6 9 27
ROC 7 10 6 23
Japan 13 4 5 22
Australia 6 1 9 16
Kara Lawson joined Mike Krzyzewski as the second Duke coach to lead an American basketball team to an Olympic gold medal and made some history along the way, as her 3-on-3 squad earned the first gold medal ever awarded in the sport. Former North Carolina and current WNBA star Allisha Gray had four baskets and six rebounds to help the U.S. beat the Russian Olympic Committee team 18-15 in the final game. Gray had a team-high six baskets earlier in the day in an 18-16 semifinal win against France.
Staff Sgt. Naomi Graham saw her medal hopes come to an early end after losing a 4-1 decision to the ROC’s Zenfira Magomedaleiva in an opening round match of the women’s middleweight boxing competition. Graham, a native of Fayetteville and the first active duty military woman to compete for the U.S. in boxing, held her own throughout the bout, but lost all three rounds by slim margins on the cards of four judges. Only Mongolian judge Tsogtgerel Tserenkhand gave Graham the edge, scoring the match 29-28 in the American’s favor.
Evy Leibfarth and Michael Smolen both qualified for their respective quarterfinals on the whitewater of the Kasai Slalom Center.
Leibfarth, a 17-year-old from Bryson City, put herself into medal contention with two strong runs in the preliminary round of the women’s canoe slalom. She placed sixth overall in a time of 113.06. Charlotte resident Smolen, meanwhile, barely squeaked into the top 20 of the men’s kayak slalom with a time of 96.61 that would have been significantly better had he not been assessed four penalty seconds for hitting a pair of gates on his way down the course.
In the swimming pool, NC State’s Sophie Hansson qualified for her second semifinal of the Games by posting the fourth-fastest time in her heat and 12th-fastest overall in the women’s 200 meter breaststroke. Hansson, swimming for Sweden, has already made to one final in Tokyo, finishing sixth in the 100 meter breaststroke.
Hansson wasn’t the only Wolfpack in action Wednesday.
Incoming freshman Noe Ponti was a member of the team that represented Switzerland in the men’s 4 x 200 freestyle relay final. He and his teammates didn’t win a medal, finishing seventh, but they did set a national record with a time of 7:06.12. Ponti’s did his leg in a split of 1:46.93.
Fellow State recruit Alexander Norgaard and alumnus Anton Ipsen swam for Denmark in the men’s 800 meter freestyle, current Wolfpack swimmer Andreas Vazaios swam for Greece in the men’s 200 meter individual medley and Andrea Podmanikova swam for Slovakia in the women’s 200 meter breaststroke, with none moving on to the semifinals.
Charlotte’s Erika Brown, a bronze medalist earlier in the Games, also had a disappointing result by failing to qualify for the semifinals in the women’s 100 meter freestyle. She did, however, win a swimoff with China’s Wu Qingfeng to become the first alternate should one of the 16 semifinalists get scratched.
Team USA Highlights
Katie Ledecky bounced back from finishing out of the medals in the 200 freestyle to take gold in the 1,500-meter freestyle, which made its Olympic debut for women this year. About an hour after finishing fifth in the 200, Ledecky held off teammate Erica Sullivan to win the metric mile in 15 minutes, 37.34 seconds.
University of Virginia teammates Alex Walsh and Kate Douglass won silver and bronze in the women’s 200-meter individual medley. Walsh was barely out-touched to the wall for the gold medal by Yui Ohashi of Japan.
The U.S. men’s basketball team finally got its first win of the Games, getting 14 points from Duke’s Jayson Tatum and six points and three blocked shots from High Point’s Bam Adabayo in a 120-66 rout of Iran.