Sheffield’s Monique Gladding may try a new sport

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SHEFFIELD diver Monique Gladding has hinted that she may switch sports if a neck injury prevents her taking to the pool again.

Gladding, aged 31, who trains at Ponds Forge aggravated a long-standing neck problem just days before the 10 metre platform competition at the Olympic Games in London.

Despite missing the final part of her preparation she performed well and only failed to reach the semi-finals by a narrow margin - ending the preliminary stage in 19th place with the top 18 going through.

She said at the time that the problems were typical of her season as she battled through injury and selection controversies to make the Great Britain squad.

But now, having had time to reflect on her first taste of an Olympics, she told The Star that another sport could be a possibility.

She said: “I don’t know where my future lies until the extent of my neck injury is clear but I want to stay in sport. I have a lot of skill sets that could transfer over from diving so to try something else would be exciting.”

For now the South African-born Gladding is using her Olympic experience to inspire the next generation of aquatic athletes. She is part of a British Swimming tour of the country which aims to get more children in the water as a legacy of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. It has already visited London and Liverpool, is in Glasgow today and moves on to Swansea (September 13) and Coventry (September 17).

Having recovered from a life threatening head injury in Russia 18 months ago Gladding thinks she’s in a good position to speak to young people.

She said: “I love to inspire young people. I think I have a good story that you can still fulfil your dreams.

“You may not always be a champion, my road has been uneven and I have been tested but I got there.

“This tour gives young people the chance to experience diving or swimming or water polo. If kids enjoy this they may want to carry on in one of the sports.”

Although Gladding is still disappointed not to make more of an impact in London she said she’s happy to have had the opportunity: “The Olympic experience was brilliant. I was gutted not to make it through to the semi-final but maybe things happen for a reason.”

Monique Gladding is supporting The British Swimming Heroes Tour presented by British Gas which is taking elite swimmers around the county to inspire children to get into the pool and try out different aquatic activities. Visit www.swimming.org/heroes