Diving: Back injury ends Taylor's dream of fourth Olympics

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The Independent Online

The Olympic and world diving medallist Leon Taylor has retired less than three months before the Beijing Games because of recurring injury.

Taylor and Peter Waterfield became Britain's first Olympic diving medallists in 44 years when they won silver in the synchronised platform at the 2004 Athens Games. The pair, known in the sport as "the odd couple" because Taylor is much taller than Waterfield, claimed bronze in the same event at the 2005 world championships in Montreal.

Taylor, 30, had been hoping to make his fourth Olympics in August but a back injury hampered his preparations and he decided to retire now, knowing he would not be fit enough to compete at the British trials at the end of June.

"It's been the toughest battle of my career but I have a worn out disc in my lower back and there's just no getting over this injury," he said. "Unfortunately the medics have told me my body is worn out. We looked at all the options but there was nothing I could do."

His former team-mate Tom Daley, the European platform champion who turned 14 last week, said it was a shame to see his Taylor retire: "He's been a massive help to me in my diving career over the past two years."

Daley and Blake Aldridge are set to take Britain's place in the synchronised event. Taylor acts as a mentor to Daley, who will become Britain's second youngest male Olympian in Beijing, and said: "I was with Tom at the weekend when he and Blake won gold at the Diving World Series. They've got a chance of doing well in Beijing but it's a tall order."