Diving: Team GB's Chris Mears completes remarkable journey from near death to Olympic finalist

 

Chris Mears completed one of the most heart-warming stories of the London Games as his journey from near-death to Olympic finalist was realised this evening.

The 19-year-old from Reading was given just a five per cent chance of survival after he required life-saving surgery during a youth diving competition in Australia in January 2009.

Three years on, and again against all the odds, Mears qualified for this evening's three-metre springboard final.

He did so by smashing his lifetime best to score 461.00 in this morning's semi-final and leave his watching parents, Katy and Paul, in tears.

While he failed to reproduce the performance tonight, finishing 11th with a score of 439.75, it hardly mattered for a man who was ranked 48th in the world this year before the Games.

Mears did fittingly end his competition on a high, grabbing one of only two scores over 100 points for a single dive in the final, when he won nines for his hardest front four-and-a-half somersaults.

While the contest may be most remembered for Russia's Ilya Zakharov ending China's bid for a clean sweep of the gold medals in the diving pool the emotion of a 17,500 home support for Mears was most palpable inside the Aquatics Centre as he was roared on before and after each dive.

Mears almost lost his life after he required life-saving surgery to remove a ruptured spleen sustained while diving at the Youth Olympic Festival in Australia.

He lost five pints of blood and following the surgery had further complications, suffering a seven-hour seizure before falling into a coma for three days.

His family made the frantic journey from around the globe to be at his bedside where, after a month in a Sydney hospital, he slowly made his recovery and begin a remarkable journey that reached its climax tonight.

"I am so proud of him. He's incredible," Mears' mother, Katy, told Press Association Sport after his semi-final this morning.

"The last three years he has had to crawl his way back and to get where he is now is amazing.

"I just can't believe it. We knew he had it in him, but for it all to go right at an Olympics is so unbelievable."

The Mears family had to be given tickets from British Swimming for the final, such was the surprise of their son's progress.

He also claimed fifth alongside Nick Robinson-Baker in the springboard synchro last week.

PA

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