SHEFFIELD’S Monique Gladding fought against the effects of a prolapsed disc in her neck but missed out on making the semi-finals of the 10 metre platform diving by just one place last night.
Gladding, aged 31, who narrowly escaped death 18 months ago when she hit her head on the way down on a dive in Russia, almost didn’t make the competition after aggravating the neck injury five days ago.
However, intensive medical care by Team GB physios and assurances that she couldn’t do any lasting damage to her spinal cord saw her perform well except for her fourth dive. Needing to be in the top 18 to make this morning’s semi-final Gladding was 14th after three dives but slipped to 20th while attempting a back two and a half somersault.
Her final attempt was a good one but not enough to edge her past North Korea’s Kim Un Hyang.
She said: “To finish 19th is a horrible place to finish. I’ve had such a horrible week this week. I was touch and go whether or not I’d be able to dive anyway.
“I came into it with no expectations and just wanted to get through it and survive without my neck playing up.
“But on the other side you change your goals and I’m gutted now. But I have to be proud. They said there was a 90 percent chance I couldn’t dive and there was a high risk of hurting myself.
“It’s true to my career really. Ups and downs. But I gave it my all and one mistake has cost me. Four years ago I’d be in the semi final now.”
Throughout the competition Gladding doesn’t look at the scores but on the completion of her final dive husband Steve told her she was close to the cut off point.
She said: “It’s horrible when you’re that close because you don’t want to wish anyone badly. It just wasn’t meant to be I guess. This past year has been a mountain to climb. Although I’m gutted I have to hold my head high.”
There is a chance that Gladding could compete again as first reserve but after that her future is uncertain. She said: “I have to have neck surgery. So it’s off to the neurosurgeon to find out what we need to do.
“Right now it has taken everything to get here. I wanted to do the best I could.”
* Follow The Star’s Olympics coverage in paper, Monday to Saturday, with live breaking news here on-line at www.thestar.co.uk/sport/olympics.
And you can also interact with us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SheffieldStar.
OLYMPICS BLOG: The Star’s sport reporter Richard Fidler is at London 2012 to follow all our South Yorkshire and region athletes - bringing you all the daily action, news, reports and more. Follow his daily blog - CLICK HERE.