An Australian 10-meter platform diver has retired on the eve of the Commonwealth Games after doctors warned her she risked being paralyzed if she continued in the sport.
GOLD COAST, Australia (AP) — An Australian 10-meter platform diver has retired on the eve of the Commonwealth Games after doctors warned her she risked being paralyzed if she continued in the sport.
Taneka Kovchenko has experienced headaches and neck pain since late last year, and underwent testing which revealed a compressed spinal cord at the base of her skull.
“The neurologist and doctors were very clear that if a dive was to go wrong, that the result would be being a ventilated quadriplegic,” Kovchenko, 23, posted on Instagram.
Pt.1 This past week I’ve had to make one of the hardest decisions of my career so far and I would like to firstly say thank you to medical professionals at SASI for being so diligent throughout this process because without them life could have be a lot worse. Yesterday I announced I am having to retire from diving due to my safety. Since the end of last year I have had chronic headaches and a lot of pain in my neck. We decided it was time to get it check out last month so I had a few scans done, not thinking much off it. From the first scan we found I have a fairly common genetic formation where my scull formed before my brain finished growing which seemed to pose no immediate problems but my Doctor wanted to send me to the neurologist as this can sometimes cause a build up of fluid in the spinal cord. I had a few more scans done in flexion and extension of my neck which found my neck is hyper flexible and my c1 and c2 are compressing my spinal cord and the bottom of my brain when in these positions. The neurologist and Doctors where very clear that if a dive was to go wrong that the result would be being a ventilated quadriplegic. This was a super scary moment. I thought of every scenario to try and continue diving till at-least the end of this season however the risks highly out weighed the options of continuing to dive and sadly had to make the heart breaking decision to stop diving. I have had an amazing 14 years diving chasing my dream of representing Australia. I am great full for every experience and opportunity I have been given. I am leaving the sport as an athlete proud of my accomplishments and with so many life skills. I have learnt so much from this sport including courage, determination, inner strength, persistence, confidence, self belief, to aspire, support and empathize with teammates even if it’s a primarily individual sport. This may be the end of my diving career but I’m not going to be a stranger to the sport, I’m still in love with it.
Pt. 2 I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has played a roll in making my years in diving such memorable ones from the highest of highs to the heart breaking lows, it’s all been worth it. To my teammates off to the Gold Coast for comm games thank you for the support and inspiration not only through this week but also over the years. I love you all and I wish you all the best next week I’ll be cheering you all on 💪🇦🇺 To my coach Michel Larouche I am beyond grateful for being able to be guided by you these past 3 and a half almost 4 yrs my longest standing coach to this day. I thank you for pushing me to my limits and beyond. I’ve learnt by pushing the limits it enables us to change, learn and improve our selves. Thank you to @sa_sports_institute for everything the support and guidance you have given me over the past three and half years has been amazing in and out of the pool. You are all like family to me and I now truly have a soft spot for SA ❤️ @divingaus thank you for your support over the years these past few have been beyond my wildest dreams and I’ll be forever great full for the opportunities given to me to represent Australia in diving. Last but not least thank you too my family for everything I love you all so much and am internally grateful for your love and support ❤️ over the many years. I am sad that this chapter is closing but excited for what might be around the corner. No matter what I know one thing will never change I’ll always strive to be my best and continue chasing my dreams.
“This was a super-scary moment. I thought of every scenario to try and continue diving till at least the end of this season. However the risks highly outweighed the options of continuing to dive and sadly had to make the heartbreaking decision to stop diving.”
Kovchenko was considered a Commonwealth Games medal chance with Olympic silver medalist Melissa Wu in the platform synchro as well as in the individual 10-meter event.
The Commonwealth Games open on Wednesday, with diving competition getting underway on April 11.