Tempe native Dorman takes silver, parents overjoyed

RIO DE JANEIRO – When he was little, Sam Dorman would get nervous before dive meets. He would look up at his parents, Paul and Marla, for support and they would always respond with a thumbs up.

Before Sam competed in the men’s synchronized 3-meter springboard diving event at the Maria Lenk Aquatics Centre in Rio de Janeiro Wednesday, it was no different.

“He got out of the hot tub and he looked up at us and we were like in the front row so he could see us and he gave us a thumbs up,” Marla Dorman said. “I knew he was calm and confident.”

Dorman and his partner Michael Hixon clinched a silver medal after scoring 98.04 points on their sixth and final dive, the highest score for any dive in the competition.

The Tempe native was able to make one call to his parents after getting out of the pool before being whisked away for the medal ceremony.

His first words according to his parents? “Was that not incredible?” he said.

Marla sobbed on the phone with tears of pure joy.

“We never take it for granted that they’re going to get a medal or win, but after that last dive it was incredible,” Marla said.

Paul Dorman got chills up and down his spine.

“The feeling after they won a medal was incredible,” Paul said. “It was like surreal. It was like no feeling I’ve ever had before except when I got married and (my children) were born.”

The proud parents usually never talk about diving before Sam’s events. Instead, they just wish him good luck.

“We knew what the competition was and what to expect,” Paul added. “We knew the Chinese were always favored as they always are. It was great to beat the Chinese.”

The Dormans will head back to Arizona soon but Sam will stay behind. He’s managed to make new best friends out of PGA golfers Rickie Fowler and Bubba Watson.

Watson and Fowler have become big diving fans over the last week and have been at all the diving events.

Paul joked about already visiting Sam’s new friends when they come to the Valley.

“I might be going to the Phoenix Open and saying ‘Hey Sam, can you get me a couple tickets to the Phoenix Open? Tell Rickie we’ll come out and follow him’,” Paul said.