Remember the name James Hopper, sports fans. You just might see him in the Olympics one day.
Hopper, a 13-year-old Old Greenwich resident and student at Easter Middle School, recently earned a bronze medal for Team USA in the 3-meter springboard diving competition at the Junior Pan American Diving Championships, which were held in Tuscon, Ariz.
The Old Greenwich teen, who is a member of the YMCA of Greenwich's Marlins Dive Club, has been diving for about five years and has built up quite a resume in that time. In 2012, he was placed on USA Diving's Junior Elite Performance Squad. Then, in 2013, he was named to USA Diving's Future Olympic Force Team, for "junior divers who aspire to become members of the Olympic Performance Squad with the goal of competing in the 2016 and 2020 Olympics."
Then came Tucson. Hopper earned his spot in the Pan Am Diving championship, his first international competition, based on his gold medal performance on the 3 meter springboard at the USA Diving Junior Nationals, which were held in Minneapolis, MN this past August . His third place finish in Arizona was nothing short of impressive.
"We are so proud of James and everything he has accomplished this year," said Dylan Korn, one of Hopper's coaches with the Marlins. "He has many goals and works incredibly hard to reach those goals."
Greenwich Citizen caught up with Hopper recently and asked him about those goals.
When did you start diving?
Five years ago, at my summer club (Greenwich Country Club).
What attracted you to the sport?
I liked jumping and spinning. I liked doing flips. I really liked the challenge!
When did you start to realize you were becoming really good?
After my 2nd Junior Nationals meet in 2011. I won silver medals on all three events: 1m, 3m and platform.
How often do you practice?
Five to six days a week Read Full Article
Where do you train?
Greenwich YMCA - Marlins Dive Club
Who are your coaches?
Lindsay Weigle and Dylan Korn
What are your strengths as a dive?
Competing, and I am flexible.
How about weaknesses or things you need to work on?
I need to work on "spotting", so I can see my dive entries.
You recently competed in your first major international competition and earned a bronze medal. Tell us about that experience. What was it like competing against kids from other countries? Were you nervous?
It was a great experience. I really enjoyed meeting and interacting with divers from different countries. I had a lot of fun with Team USA. We spent a week together, practicing and competing and cheering each other on. I was not too nervous. My goal was to enjoy the experience!
What is next for you?
We have a competition coming up in Montreal, as well as Senior Nationals, in Austin, Texas.
How about long-term goals? Are you thinking Olympics?
Yes, I think about the Olympics; However, I like to take diving year by year!