Heartbreak as Aussie diver forced to retire on Games eve
DIVER Taneka Kovchenko has been forced into retirement on the eve of the Commonwealth Games after scans revealed an issue that could have left her a quadriplegic if a dive went wrong.
South Australian Kovchenko, who won gold in the synchronised platform event with Melissa Wu at the FINA Diving World Cup on the Gold Coast last year, made the heartbreaking decision to withdraw from the Australian team after scans revealed a congenital problem that left her with a hyperflexible neck and vertebrae that compress her spinal cord and brain.
"The neurologist and Doctors where (sic) very clear that if a dive was to go wrong that the result would be being a ventilated quadriplegic," Kovchenko said in an Instagram post.
"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."
Kovchenko is the diving partner of four-time Commonwealth Games representative Melissa Wu, with the pair gold medal favourites in the 10m synchronised competition.
Brisbane-based Teju Williamson has been added to the team to replace Kovchenko, with the teen working frantically with Wu to try and form a combination before competition at the Gold Coast Aquatic Centre in the second week of the Games.
Wu said her heart was breaking for her teammate.
"I'm going to miss you so much up on the platform," Wu said.
"It's been an honour to not only compete with you as synchro partners but also to compete against you as competitors. I'm so proud of you and everything you've achieved. You're one of the strongest people I know and I admire your courage and determination so much."
Kovchenko thanked the Australian team for its support after 14 years in the sport.
"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," she said.
"I love you all and I wish you all the best next week I'll be cheering you all on."