“This past week I’ve had to make one of the hardest decisions of my career so far and I would like to firstly say thank you to medical professionals at SASI for being so diligent throughout this process because without them life could have be a lot worse,” Kovchenko wrote on her Instagram.
After experiencing chronic headaches and neck pain, Kovchenko went in for what she thought were routine scans – only to find a genetic formation in her skull that could render her paralysed from the neck down should a dive go wrong.
“I thought of every scenario to try and continue diving till at-least the end of this season however the risks highly out weighed the options of continuing to dive and sadly had to make the heart breaking decision to stop diving,” she writes on the eve of the Games.
Despite her heartbreak, Kovchenko remains positive: “I have had an amazing 14 years diving chasing my dream of representing Australia. I am great full 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.”
“I have learnt so much from this sport including courage, determination, inner strength, persistence, confidence, self belief, to aspire, support and empathize with teammates even if it’s a primarily individual sport. 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.”
In a second post, she wishes her teammates all the best in the Commonwealth Games this week, saying she’ll be there to cheer them on, as well as her coach Michel Larouche and family.