The Canadian diving star confirmed Thursday that he’s healthy enough to compete in London after suffering a concussion and a large cut on his head in a training accident a month ago.
Despatie suffered what he recently called a “small concussion” on June 12 when he struck his head on the three-metre springboard while practicing an inward 3½-flip dive ahead of a Grand Prix event in Madrid. The blow also opened a 10-centimetre gash on the head of the two-time Olympic medallist.
The scar from that injury was visible just below Despatie's hairline during Thursday's news conference in Quebec, where the Laval, Que., diver thanked doctors, teammates, family, friends and fans for their support following the injury.
Despatie said he has “no recollection” of the accident, but that he’s now free of post-concussion symptoms and following a cautious training program to get back in form. He has not yet started performing the dives he uses in competition.
“Training has been going well, things are progressing very well, and that’s the main thing,” Despaite said in French.
The injury has thrown a wrench into Despatie's preparations for the London Olympics, where he's slated to first compete on Aug. 1 in the men’s three-metre springboard synchronized event with teammate Reuben Ross. Despatie is also entered in the three-metre individual competition on Aug. 6.
Despatie was scheduled to dive in the Spanish Grand Prix in Madrid followed by the Italian Grand Prix in Bolzano — the final two of six events comprising FINA's Grand Prix circuit — but instead returned home to Quebec to recuperate.
He said his Olympic preparations are “maybe not ideal… but I’m going to do the best with what I’ve got.”
Canada's dominant diver for a generation, Despatie burst into the spotlight as a 13-year-old at the Commonwealth Games in 1998, when he captured gold in the 10-metre platform. He went on to compete at the 2000 Olympics before winning back-to-back silver medals in the individual three-metre springboard in both 2004 and 2008.