Alexandre Despatie doesn’t remember hitting his head on the diving board during training, and says that may be a good thing going into London Olympics.
The two-time Olympic silver medallist, who suffered a concussion and nasty gash on his forehead during practice June 12 in Spain, confirmed his participation at the 2012 Games at a news conference Thursday.
His Olympic future looked in doubt when he banged his head while training for the Madrid Grand Prix. Despatie was admitted into hospital and required surgery to close a 10-centimetre wound near his hairline.
”For sure, it’s a concern, but the good thing is that I don’t remember what happened,” Despatie said. ”There was a four or five minute period where I don’t recall anything.”
Initial neurological tests indicated the 27-year-old from Laval, Que., hadn’t suffered a concussion but a specialist in Canada confirmed otherwise.
Despatie says he is back in the pool training a few days ahead of schedule, although he has yet to work on the dives he will use in competition.
He said that due to the concussion, getting back to Olympic form is a step-by-step process that cannot be rushed, but he feels he’s doing well. He will leave with the team for Italy in a few days to begin the final stage of preparation.
”It’s a big challenge with the adversity I’ll face until the end of this process,” he said. ”But I’m going to the Games to do my best.”
There is concern the injury may diminish his chances of claiming a medal in London, but Despatie said he never focused on prizes even when at full health.
”It was never a question of medals or scores for me,” he said. ”On the day of the competition, I just want to have my best performance ever and get the best result possible.”
Despatie won silver in springboard at the 2004 Summer Games in Athens to become the first Canadian male to earn an Olympic diving medal.
Despite breaking his foot a few weeks prior to the 2008 Games in Beijing, Despatie won silver again.
“Thank you to all the fans, the public that sent so many encouraging notes,” Despatie said. “It means a lot to me. You have no idea.
“It was a bit overwhelming, but I’m very happy that you guys are proud of me and I’ll do everything I can to make you proud still.”