Mon, September 23, 2013

Despatie is Olympics-bound

By BRIAN DALY, QMI Agency


A head injury won't stop Alexandre Despatie from going to London to compete in his fourth Olympic Games. (Pierre-Paul Poulin/QMI Agency/Files)


MONTREAL - Two-time Olympic medallist Alexandre Despatie confirms he'll be going to London for his fourth Summer Games despite having suffered a head injury last month.

The 27-year-old diver told a news conference Thursday he was fit to compete. He had been knocked unconscious June 12 when his head hit the board during training in Spain.

"I'm very happy to announce that I'm going to the London Games," said Despatie, who resumed training only a few days ago.

"I was lucky in this whole accident, it could have been a lot worse. I'm here today, I'm going to London and I'm very excited to be competing."

Despatie suffered a concussion and a 10-cm gash on his head during the accident. He needed surgery to close the wound.

The native of Laval, Que., said he hasn't suffered concussion symptoms for more than two weeks, although he missed two full weeks of training following the injury.

He noted that he has battled health issues throughout his career and has grown accustomed to forced disruptions to his training schedule.

"Throughout my whole career I have had obstacles," he said. "So far I've done well with them. Right now it's another big, big challenge for me to overcome."

During the past year, Despatie has had to deal with tendinitis in his left knee. In 2008, he suffered a broken right foot only a few months before the Games in Beijing, which didn't stop him from winning silver.

He hasn't had a chance to practise the inward three-and-a-half dive that could vault him to the gold medal that so far has eluded him.

Despatie said he has "spun around a little bit in the water" but has yet to resume a full training schedule.

He plans to compete in the three-metre springboard and the three-metre synchro in London. He has won silver medals at the previous two Olympics and he says he's shooting for gold in what is likely to be his final Games.

"I have a chance to top myself and do even better."