STEVE Gladding, the coach and husband of London Olympics medal hope Monique Gladding, has admitted he thought the City of Sheffield diver had died after her accident in Russia, writes Dom Howson.
It was nine days ago that Monique, competing with partner Megan Sylvester in the 10-metre platform synchronised event in at the Fina Grand Prix, suffered a serious head injury after smashing into an 18 inches-thick concrete platform coming out of a three-and-a-half somersault dive.
South African-born Gladding was knocked unconscious as Sylvester completed the routine and she had to be rescued from the pool by British team-mate Nick Robinson-Baker, Steve and Russian coach Sergei Kutsmanov.
Steve revealed that Monique had taken off “incorrectly” in the dive and that resulted in her hitting her head on the platform.
“She hit the water and sank to the bottom of the pool,” Steve said.
“Nick (Robinson-Baker) dived in and we pulled her from the pool but she was completely unresponsive.
“I didn’t know if she was breathing. We couldn’t find a pulse. To be honest, I thought we’d lost her.
“I thought she could be dead. I just removed myself to let the medics work on her and walked away and, for about four minutes, I was standing there having a meltdown, believing she was gone. It was horrendous.
“I didn’t have a clue whether she was with us or not, but as soon as they made it clear she was alive, I went to hold her and head and help with the recovery.”
Monique, who won European gold with Megan in October 2010, had to spend three days in hospital after suffering whiplash injuries and a severe cut to her head, which required eight stitches.
Steve said the 29-year-old, who had a brain scan, CT scan and spinal examination, lost half a litre in blood.
The couple have jetted off to South Africa for a rest and recuperation holiday with friends and family. Having had a check-up on Friday, Monique is expected to be sidelined for a minimum of six weeks but she may wait longer before contemplating a come-back.
On her Twitter page, Monique posted: “On my way to South Africa, looking forward to spending some time with family in the sun...time to rest, recover & come back stronger.”
Monique has acknowledged she will be nervous when she returns to action but despite the accident, the Olympics remain her top priority.
She added: “I’m determined. I’m sure in my mind that I can comeback from this. I can learn from it. I can be better. I can be more accurate.”