OLYMPIC hopeful Megan Sylvester cannot believe how quickly her synchro diving partner and City of Sheffield teammate, Monique Gladding, has come back to the sport.
Only four months ago in the Russian Grand Prix, Gladding’s head cracked off the 18 inch slab of concrete during the pair’s third dive and she plummeted to the bottom of the pool. But defying both the mental and physical injuries of an incident which ‘scalped’ the top of her head, Gladding made an emotional return to the pool last weekend in the National Diving Championships.
She took fifth place in the women’s 10m platform. Tankersley’s Sylvester, 16, was in the air with Gladding as the accident occurred. She said: “I heard Monique make a noise and so did the crowd.
“I couldn’t tell the whole extent of what had happened until I came back to the surface and she wasn’t there with me.
“I was in shock for a long time and I was just happy that she was still alive.”
Sylvester admitted that, despite their age gap of fourteen years, she and Gladding are like sisters and although the teenager will miss the competition through injury, she will still cheer on her friend.
“She’s such a fighter and I can’t believe that she’s back so soon,” she added. “I’m glad she is back, because I’d have been the only girl left at the club! She really is an inspiration to us all and I’m not sure that I’d have been as brave as she’s been.”
Gladding’s coach Steve, who is also her husband, has been coaching for 17 years.“He knows of five people who have hit their head in the same way,” Gladding said of the accident.
“I’m one of those five - and two of them are dead. If you hit your head on the platform full-on, you’re dead. “I scalped myself. It took the top of my head off and then they put it back. But because I just scalped it, that was fine.”