Commonwealth Games: Diver Taneka Kovchenko retires days before event after health warning

Taneka Kovchenko
Taneka Kovchenko was due to compete in the 10m individual and 10m synchronised platform events
2018 Commonwealth Games
Venue: Gold Coast, Australia Dates: 4-15 April
Coverage: Watch live on BBC TV and Red Button with extra streams on Connected TVs, BBC Sport website and app; listen on Radio 5 live; follow text updates online. Times and channels

An Australian diver has retired from the sport days before she was due to compete at the Commonwealth Games after warnings she could be paralysed.

Doctors told Taneka Kovchenko that she could become a "ventilated quadriplegic" should a dive go wrong.

The 19-year-old was sent for scans and to see a neurologist after suffering chronic headaches and neck pain.

"I've had to make one of the hardest decisions of my career so far," Kovchenko said on Instagram.external-link

The Australian said scans showed she had a "fairly common genetic formation" in which her skull formed before her brain had finished growing.

Further scans showed, in flexion and extension of Kovchenko's neck, the compression of her spinal cord and the bottom of her brain

"The neurologist and doctors were very clear that if a dive was to go wrong that the result would be being a ventilated quadriplegic," she added.

"This was a super scary moment. I thought of every scenario to try and continue diving until at least the end of this season.

"However, the risks highly outweighed the options of continuing to dive and sadly had to make the heartbreaking decision to stop diving."

The teenager had been due to compete in the 10m individual and 10m synchronised platform events, which begin next week.

"I have had an amazing 14 years diving, chasing my dream of representing Australia," she added.

"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.

"This may be the end of my diving career but I'm not going to be a stranger to the sport, I'm still in love with it."