Brooke Graddon calls time on diving but looks back with pride on fine career
Plymouth Diving's Brooke Graddon has announced her retirement from diving after a successful career dogged by injury and bad luck.
Graddon said it will be a real wrench to no longer be a part of a sport she has graced for the best part of 16 years. She has been a member of the Devon-based club's quartet of Tom Daley, Tonia Couch and Sarah Barrow, which flew the flag for city and country at major competitions around the world.
The 25-year-old Great Britain and England 10m platform diver has been hindered by bad luck since 2006, when she competed for England at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne. She has suffered ill-timed back and neck injuries, and also spent time out of the sport recovering from glandular fever.
Last year she had an operation to correct yet another injury – this time on her right shoulder – in a bid to win a place at the Olympic Games in London. She had considered quitting in 2010, due to injury and frustration at the lack of opportunities to compete at the highest level, but did not want to give up the chance of diving at the Olympics.
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The highlights of her career were winning an individual bronze medal at the 2008 European Championships, and becoming British title winner from the tower.
"Yes, I'm retiring from diving altogether through injuries, the latest being the shoulder, and feeling that trying to make Rio in four years' time would be a bit too much for me," she said. "But also with frustration at the sport, as I've had more than my fair share of bad luck since Melbourne six years ago.
"Luck has not been on my side and I've just had enough of battling with the sport, really.
"I feel I've put everything into it and, when you don't get what you know you deserve back, it's hard to take. So, I feel the time now is right for me to call it a day.
"The key disappointments for me have been definitely not making London – as appearing at an Olympics was my dream. I was very disappointed at not making the Beijing Games, but accepted it, moved on and trained for London. My own determination to try and win a place kept me going.
"When that didn't happen, it was like the final breaking point for me and I was going to retire then, but didn't want it to deflect from the Olympics."
Graddon said the operation to repair torn shoulder ligaments last October meant that she had little preparation going into the national championships and Olympic trials this year. "Because of my injury, I got taken off [sports] funding in January and wasn't picked for the bigger competitions like the World Championships and the major internationals," she said.
"With help from my parents and my work I paid to enter competitions myself to try and get some good performances, which, after the years in the sport, I shouldn't have had to do. But it was my dream to make London."
While there were knocks along the road, Graddon has had had plenty of great moments, too, adding: "Winning my European bronze medal in 2008 was the best feeling ever, especially after coming back from glandular fever.
"It was a great year, even though I missed out on Beijing, as I competed at the World Championships and qualified for an Olympic place for Great Britain. I'm still very proud that I'm the only British girl to have won an individual European medal to this day."