Hanging up my Speedos
by Leon Taylor - GB athlete (U11235321) 29 May 2008
Leon Taylor won silver in synchronised diving at the 2004 Olympics and was hoping to compete at the Beijing Games before retiring. In the latest of a series of posts for 606, he reveals how his Olympic dreams were finally dashed.
The last nine months have been absolutely horrible but at least I can sit here now without any regretsWhen my back injury was first diagnosed about 10 years ago, they told me my career could be over in a year so I've done pretty well to carry on for this long.
But it's still pretty devastating that my body couldn't quite hold out for another three months.
When I look back now, the writing was probably on the wall for a while.
The last time I was fully fit was in October last year and since then I've had the back injury, hernia surgery and then the back problem again.
Having lost all that time, going to the Olympics and competing for gold - which is all I wanted to do - wasn't realistic anymore.
But it was important to me that I threw absolutely everything at it.
The last nine months have been absolutely horrible but at least I can sit here now without any regrets.
If I'd thrown in the towel too early or opted against the hernia surgery, I'd always be wondering.
I'm grateful to the team around me for helping me with the decision.
When you're so dedicated to something, sometimes it's hard to see the wood from the trees.
It was determination and tenacity that got me to where I am in diving but that can also make you carry on for too long.
I can't live in denial and it's time to stop.
Obviously, my synchronised partner Peter Waterfield was part of the decision-making process. It means our 14-year partnership comes to an end.
There have been plenty of ups and downs because we've both struggled with injuries but we've had the best time.
Thankfully, my decision doesn't mean he isn't going to Beijing.
He's already qualified for the individual so he'll be competing at his third Olympics and I wish him all the luck in the world.
I'll also be going to Beijing where I'll be carrying on my work as an athlete ambassador, as well as supporting Tom Daley as his mentor.
I've had 22 years in the sport and it's been so rewarding - even with the injuriesAnd now I'm not competing, I'll also be in the commentary box for the BBC and hopefully contributing some more to the BBC website.
I'm on a bit of an emotional rollercoaster at the moment but I can't wait to throw myself into that.
People keep saying to me "You must be sad" and unquestionably I am at this moment but if I look back on my career, I can't be disappointed.
I've had 22 years in the sport and it's been so rewarding - even with the injuries, the rehab and everything else.
When you get a chance to stand on the Olympic stage after you've come through all the lows, you do appreciate it so much more.
I can look back and reflect not just on falling off a board but the lessons I've learned along the way.
Leon Taylor was talking to Caroline Cheese.
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