Monique Gladding, one of Sheffield’s top international divers, is determined to keep her Olympic dream alive despite suffering an horrific accident in Russia.
She hit the concrete platform with her head during an inward three-and-a-half somersault dive with her Barnsley-born partner Megan Sylvester in the 10 metre springboard synchronised event at the FINA Grand Prix in Penza.
The 29-year-old was knocked unconcious, crashed into the water and she had to be rescued by her City of Sheffield team-mate Nick Robinson-Baker.
Not surprisingly Monique, who spent three days in hospital with whiplash injuries and a severe cut which required multiple stitches, can’t remember anything about the incident.
Currently recuperating in her home country of South Africa with husband and coach Steve and her family, she said she felt ‘surprisingly well’ and added:
“It was very scary but it was an accident and I’m sure in my own mind that I can come back from it.
“I will certainly learn from it but I’m determined to get back into the pool as soon as I can. I desperately want to compete at the London Olympics and that is still my main focus.” Steve admitted that he thought the worst: “It was an awful moment. I didn’t know if she was breathing; we couldn’t find a pulse and I really thought we’d lost her.
“I thought she could be dead. I just removed myself to let the medics work on her and for around four minutes I just stood there having a meltdown.
“Accidents do happen but I feel so lucky that we still have her here with us.”
A City of Sheffield spokesperson said: “The precision and grace of divers as they plunge into the water masks the dangers that they face every day during training and competitions. A slight error of execution can cause disaster.”
Monique, who won European gold with Megan last October, is expected to be sidelined for a minimum of six weeks.
Meanwhile after his heroics in helping Monique from the water, Robinson-Baker won a bronze medal with partner Chris Mears in the 3 metre springboard synchro competition.
The pair scored a total of 416.46 points which is the highest competitive score they have achieved so far.