End of an era for diving ace Jane

SHEFFIELD diving ace Jane Smith has decided the time has come to hang up her costume and find an alternative attraction to making a splash in the pool.

One of Great Britain's most decorated female divers, Smith, has announced her retirement from the sport after a career spanning more than a decade at elite level.

The City of Sheffield diver steps down from the sport on a high note after finishing fourth in the 3m synchro event at the Athens Olympics, a 10-place improvement from the Sydney Games four years earlier where Smith was placed 14th with synchro diving partner Tandi Gerrard.

Her last four years in the sport have been the most successful with Smith winning double bronze at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in the 1m and 3m springboard events.

A solid all-round athlete, Smith also boasts winning ITV's Gladiators in 1998 and the Champion of Champions edition in 1999.

"The decision to retire was a difficult one to make," she admitted. "I spoke to national performance director Steve Foley about it and he was very supportive.

"People told me that I'd know when it was the right time and when I reduced my training after Athens to concentrate on synchro, I felt I wasn't doing myself justice.

"I was so used to giving it 110 per cent that it didn't feel right just training in the evenings and at weekends and it wasn't fair on Tandi.

"The doors are never shut to return but I felt it was good to call it a day on the back of a successful two years.

"What Tandi and I achieved in Athens exceeded our expectations and we were both so proud. It's the highlight of my synchronised diving career. My individual high point was the Commonwealth Games in Manchester where I won double bronze on home soil.

"I feel fortunate not to retire due to injury or a lack of success. I've given the sport everything over the last 15 years and I think it's important to do other things.

"I'm getting married in August this year and I'm well into my teacher training which started in September – a week after I returned from Athens.

"I'm going to miss the support of British Diving. It is such a professional set-up and was something that I took for granted, especially at Sheffield where we had the support of EIS on tap.

"Steve Foley has been fantastic to work with and has really helped me since he's worked in Britain. I'm really keen to keep involved with British Diving and as my role's no longer practical, I want to give something back.

"I hope that one day I can help a 'little' Jane Smith make it to the top."

National performance director Foley paid tribute to Smith:

"Jane has raised the bar in British women's diving - it is now higher than it's ever been," he said.