When people call Troy Dumais “dad” or “grandpa,” it doesn’t discourage him.
Instead, it makes the 36-year-old four-time Olympic diver realize how much he was able to use his experience to teach those younger than him.
“When they call me those things or say how old I am, it actually fires me up a little bit because it excites me that they recognize my experience, my time, my work ethic, my following through and pushing through,” Dumais said at the Olympic Media Summit in March. “I take it all in because if they call me that, well, then they have respect or they know I’ve done it multiple times.”
Dumais competed for the last time on Saturday at the 2016 Olympic Diving Trials. Before his last dive at the meet, the crowd gave him a standing ovation that brought him to tears.
And after he completed the dive, the tears still continued.
“I haven’t stopped crying since the board,” Dumais said in the press room after his last dive. “It’s a dive I’ll always relive in my mind, standing on the board and seeing the people. It was actually hard to do … but I enjoyed every moment of it.”
Dumais was struggling through a damaged nerve, but he still pulled out fourth place in the 3-meter springboard, coming in behind new Olympians Michael Hixon and Kristian Ipsen.
He went into the meet knowing it would be a large endeavor to make the team, but he never gave up hope.
“When you’re his age and can still compete at his level and physically are still there, it’s really all about the mental side of it,” Olympic gold medalist David Boudia told NBC. “There’s no one better mentally than Troy Dumais.”
And it meant a lot to Dumais that both Hixon and Ipsen came up and gave him a hug after his last dive, and thanked him for everything.
Dumais has been diving for longer than the two of them have been alive, and he takes pride in the fact that they, along with other young divers he’s competed with, look up to him.
“He’s an unbelievable mentor,” Hixon said. “‘Thank you’ doesn’t quite cut it when you’re talking to him.”
Even now that Dumais is done competing, he wants to continue to pass his extensive diving knowledge along.
He hopes to go to chiropractor school and maybe become a coach.
After all, he’s spent his entire diving career helping others, so it makes sense he would want to continue to shape the diving youth.
“My whole job as a person is not only to be an athlete but also to teach,” he said. “The whole idea is to make future Olympians from the younger crowd.”