London 2012 Olympics: Mears’ incredible comeback enters its final session
CHRIS Mears’ mother recounted the emotional journey of her son from near-death to Olympic finalist after the teenager qualified for the men’s three-metre springboard medal-decider.
Katy Mears and her husband Paul were left in tears for the second time in a week at the Olympic Aquatics Centre as their son again beat the odds. Three years ago Mears, 19, was given a a five per cent chance of survival after collapsing during a junior competition in Australia.
He required life-saving surgery to remove a ruptured spleen before suffering a seven-hour seizure that left him in a coma for three days.
During that time his parents made a frantic dash across the world to be at his bedside as he eventually recovered, after a month in a Sydney hospital, Mears, ranked 48th in the world this year, was not expected to progress past last night’s preliminary round but will now dive for an Olympic medal.
The Reading diver earned that right with the performance of his career, highlighted by a near-perfect forward four-and-a-half somersault, as he posted 461.00 to place ninth. Immediately afterwards his parents were shown embracing on the big screen with his father, who carried the Olympic torch last month in recognition of his role in his son’s recovery, uttering ‘Oh my God’ as he wiped away tears.
Only last week they were similarly celebrating after Mears finished fifth alongside Nick Robinson-Baker in the springboard synchro.
“I am so proud of him. He’s incredible,” Katy Mears said. “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.
“His father is in bits to be honest. He hasn’t spoken coherently since!”
Emotions were still running high hours after Mears’ progress when Katy retold of the night she found out that her son was near death, prompting her to stop everything and fly to Australia. I got a call at one o’clock in the morning from the team doctor to say that Chris was ill but they thought it was sunstroke or something similar,” she said. They said though I might want to think about flying which seemed extreme at the time. I put the phone down and thought we’ll see what happens.
“I then got a phone call 30 minutes later and that was when the doctor revealed that Chris was going to need surgery. I asked if Chris was conscious and the doctor said he wasn’t and that he was on a ventilator. That’s when I went into panic mode. I started booking flights straight away and by nine o’clock we were on a flight to Australia.
Three years on from the most harrowing experience of their lives the Mears family is set to enjoy one of its proudest moments on the world stage. British Swimming has ensured they would have tickets to attend the final.
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