Canadian Olympic hopeful Alexandre Despatie injured in diving accident

Montreal — The Globe and Mail

Alexandre Despatie of Canada dives during the men's 3m springboard semi-final in the FINA Diving World Series in Dubai March 16, 2012. REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah (Ahmed Jadallah/Reuters)

Describing Alexandre Despatie's brush with a three-metre springboard in Madrid as "a hard graze", the technical director of Diving Canada says the two-time Olympic silver medalist should be ready to compete in plenty of time for next month's Olympics in London.

"We think the chances are really remote his Olympics are in jeopardy at all," Geller told a conference call.

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Despatie hit his head on the board on Tuesday evening while practising for a Grand Prix meet his weekend in the Spanish city, catching it on the third revolution of a three-and-a-half inward somersault, a dive he has successfully performed "thousands and thousands of times."

Geller said that when his head came into contact with the board - Despatie appeared to lose his balance as he sprang upward - the abrasive surface created a deep cut on the top of his forehead near his hairline.

Disoriented by the incident, the 27-year-old was hauled out of the water by lifeguards and coach Arturo Miranda, himself a former Olympic-level diver.

Geller said it's likely Despatie lost consciousness for a few seconds, but a detailed medical examination at hospital revealed no damage to his skull or neck, and he isn't apparently suffering from any concussion symptoms.

Desptie underwent a 40-minute operation, performed by a plastic surgeon, to close the wound. Afterward he Tweeted: "Thanks so much for the support everyone!! The surgery went well and I will give you guys an update soon!! #olympicdreamstillalive".

Sylvie Bernier, the deputy chief of mission of Canada's Olympic team, anticipates that Despatie will make a speedy and complete recovery, "if it was any other athlete, I wouldn't be talking that way."

It’s not the first time Despatie has had an accident while diving, at a meet in 2005 he had a harrowing near-miss on the 10-metre tower, grazing the concrete platform with his head and then catching it with his toes as he performed an inward three-and-a-half.

He belly-flopped hard, injuring his jaw and a leg; he hasn’t dived from the platform in competition since.

The most famous diving-board accident in Olympic history involved legendary U.S. diver Greg Louganis, who smacked the top of his head on the board during the preliminaries at the 1988 Games in Seoul - requiring five pool-side stitches - and came back to win gold the next day.

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