In an unfortunate turn of events, Australian diver Taneka Kovchenko has retired from competitive diving, days before she was set to compete at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
Kovchenko, age 23, has been suffering headaches and neck pain since the end of last year, according to SportStarLive.
Medical experts warned her that she could risk serious injury and paralysis if just one more dive went wrong. Indeed, scans found that two vertebrae had compressed Kovchenko’s spinal cord, and her doctor and neurologist said she could become a quadriplegic if she had a bad landing in a future dive.
“I have had an amazing 14 years diving, chasing my dream of representing Australia,” said Kovchenko, a Brisbane native. “I am grateful 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.”
In November, Kovchenko and her synchro partner Melissa Wu claimed the gold medal at the FINA Diving Grand Prix at the Gold Coast.
“I’m going to miss you so much up on the platform… I’m so proud of you and everything you’ve achieved,” Wu told Kovchenko following her retirement. “This is only the beginning of what you will continue to achieve in life. Thanks for being such a great team-mate and for always inspiring me to get the best out of myself.”
Teju Williamson will replace Kovchenko in the 10m individual event, and she may be tabbed to dive with Wu in the 10m synchro event.