Siblings put on dominant display


ST. PETERS, Mo. -- For much of their lives, Troy and Justin
Dumais were brothers in name only.

Even now, they must overcome the inevitable tensions that crop
up when siblings spend too much time together.

Which makes this development all the more remarkable: the
battling Dumais brothers are proving to be quite a team, earning a
trip to the Athens Olympics in synchronized diving.

"They've always been different," their mother, Kathleen, said
Thursday while sitting in the stands at the St. Peters Rec-Plex in
suburban St. Louis. "But they know they need each other.
Regardless of their differences, they need each other if they're
going to bring home a medal."

Troy, 24, and Justin, one year older, were the first American
divers to claim a spot on the Olympic team when they easily won
3-meter springboard at the trials Wednesday night.

They performed with precise coordination, scoring a perfect 10
on one dive and not faltering until their last time off the
side-by-side boards. By then, their lead was so overwhelming it
didn't matter -- they had enough points to win without even making
their final attempt.

Coming off a Grand Prix victory in Texas last month, the Dumais
brothers are sure to be one of the favorites at the Olympics.

"They should win a medal," said their father, Marc. "I'm just
not saying which color."

Both brothers readily concede their relationship has gone
through plenty of rough spots. Troy displays a steely intensity,
approaching every dive like it might be his last. Justin is more
thoughtful, showing a willingness to conserve himself in the early

"Before college, we were competitors with the same last name,"
Justin said. "Brothers was a stretch."

Synchronized diving has brought them closer together, but it's
not a cure-all. On Thursday, after placing third in the
preliminaries on the 10-meter platform, Troy was quick to point out
that Justin had botched their fourth dive.

"He missed it," Troy reported to his parents, a disapproving
tone in his voice. His mother simply smiled. "They'll work it
out," she whispered.

They wound up finishing second behind Mark Ruiz and Kyle Prandi,
who claimed the Olympic berth. Troy moved on to the individual
springboard, which he will be favored to win Friday night.

Growing up, Troy and Justin didn't feel a need to be all that
close. Diving has always been an individual sport, a dynamic that
didn't change even with the emergence of synchro over the past

"You still have to do you thing," Troy said. "I have to do my
dives, and I have to believe that when the time comes, he'll be
ready. Because if you don't believe or don't trust him, then you're
going to fall apart. You're going to fight and argue all the

"And that never happens," Justin said sarcastically.

As a kid, Troy used to do backflips into a friend's backyard
pool. His father sent him for lessons, discovering he had a knack
for the challenging sport. Soon, the entire family was diving in.

All five kids -- Justin and Troy have two younger brothers and a
younger sister -- were steered into diving by their parents, who
realized there wasn't enough time to split their attention. The
pool was 68 miles away from their southern California home. The
children were given a choice: learn to dive or stay at the house.

"Our youngest son [Dwight, who is finishing up high school]
really wanted to play ice hockey," Kathleen said. "But we
convinced him that he needed to focus on liquid water instead of
frozen water."

That single-minded dedication paid off. The oldest four all went
to college on diving scholarships, and Dwight is expected to follow
the same path.

For Troy, this will be his second Olympics. He competed in two
events at Sydney, finishing sixth in the springboard and fourth in
the 3-meter synchro with partner David Pichler.

Justin made his first Olympic team on his last try. He will
retire from diving after Athens to pursue another passion: flying
jets in either the Air Force or National Guard reserves.

He's not too concerned about going into the military while the
country is embroiled in a potentially long-term war against

"There's a certain danger," Justin said. "But I'm sure they
train you for it. I know it's the job I want to do, and I would
love to have the opportunity to do it."

Justin had to overcome a debilitating thyroid condition that
struck in December, causing him to lose 15 pounds and making it
difficult just getting out of bed.

The condition was initially diagnosed as Graves disease, a
serious illness that also struck Olympic track star Gail Devers and
would have prevented Justin from joining the military.

But a change in diet cured the symptoms quicker than expected,
so the doctors are still trying to determine what went wrong. The
illness also had an unexpected benefit, bringing the brothers
closer together.

"We've had to learn to trust each other the last couple of
months because I haven't been there physically," Justin said.

Finally, these brothers seem right in sync.