Diver Kyle Kothari came so close to giving up his Olympic dream but, ahead of the World Aquatics Championships in Japan, he is proving his doubters wrong, writes Sportsbeat’s Abi Curran.
The 2022 Commonwealth synchro silver medallist has overcome three devastating injuries since 2015, including two separate Achilles ruptures that stifled his prospects of making Rio and Tokyo.
The Harrow native heads to Fukuoka, Japan this month to make his World Championships debut where he can qualify a Paris 2024 quota place in the individual 10m platform event.
The 25-year-old took some time away from the sport in 2021 after his second Achilles rupture to start a career in finance.
Following a break, the London Aquatics Centre athlete has returned to diving with a vengeance but never believed he would make it back to the top.
“At that point in 2021 with my injury, I thought diving was done for me,” he said. “I don’t know anyone else who has gone through two ruptured Achilles and still stuck at it.
“I knew that if I could stay fit, I had a good shot but a lot of people around me were telling me that it’s not worth it and that I should move on – I don’t think I really believed it either.
“My coach at the time Dave Jenkins and my dad said to just try it, if it didn’t work, at least I could say I gave it everything.
“I’ve been injury free this year and I’m excited to see where I’m able to take it now and see what can happen if I stay fit.
“There’s no room for error in the lead up to next year. Even if I qualify for the Olympic spot, I can’t afford to mess it up because it’s not got my name on it so it’s a lot of pressure.”
As well as claiming Commonwealth silver alongside Lois Toulson, Kothari emerged from 2022 as a double European Champion in the men’s and mixed synchro pairings in Rome.
But the London School of Economics graduate has swapped synchro for individual, facing new challenges through the switch in the 10m platform event.
On his competition debut, Kothari will be looking to play a part in advancing British Diving’s six-medal haul from the World Championships in Budapest last year.
He said: “Synchro is less pressure than individual, so I miss having Ben Cutmore by my side and having that banter together.
“I’ve been training since September just focusing on individual and I’ve got used to that loneliness.
“The pressure of competing alone is a lot higher and it’s something to manage at Worlds.
“I always tell people that training is not fun, it’s hard work and boring a lot of the time but those moments like Europeans in Rome make all of it worth it.
“I remember my parents crying in the crowd at the Commonwealth Games and the celebrations after were huge.
“That’s why I dive, it’s that competition feeling, the adrenaline while you’re competing and the elation afterwards.”
British Swimming is the national governing body for swimming, diving, para-swimming, artistic swimming, high diving, and water polo. To follow our divers and other athletes at the World Championships in Fukuoka, make sure to follow us @britishswimming on Instagram and Twitter or head to www.britishswimming.org