Olympic reward for miracle man Mears
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Proud moment: Chris Mears with dad, Paul, at their Burghfield Common home.
READING diver Chris Mears is more grateful than most at being selected for the GB Olympic team this week.
Mears was just 16 when he ruptured his spleen in a dive during the Australian Youth Olympic Festival in Sydney and doctors feared he might not make it through the operation to remove the organ.
But three years on the former Willink pupil has defied all the odds to make it to London 2012.
Speaking exclusively to the Chronicle at his home in Burghfield Common, Mears said: "It means everything to be selected after working as hard as I have for the last three years.
"To have come from as low a point as near death to an Olympian is no mean feat and I don't think there are many that can say they've been through that and come out the
other side. It makes it that little bit more emotional."
Mears is one of 12 divers that were selected on Monday after taking into account performances from the World Cup in London, the World Series and last weekend's National Championships, where Mears and his diving partner Nick Robinson-Baker defended their 3m synchro title for the third year running and scored their highest ever mark for a synchro dive.
The pair finished with 428.34 points and nailed their final and most difficult dive - a forward 4 1/2 somersault - that landed them a career best 91.20 points, something which must have impressed team manager and selector Alexei Evangulov.
Mears also recorded a personal best 433 points in the 3m individual prelims.
And though he was pipped to second place by Oliver Dingley in the final, he admitted he was 'happy' with finishing score of 428.05.
"It's still a reasonable score," he said. "If I get my inward and my front in there, that is 500 points. I'm still confident I can improve."
His whole family, grandparents, girlfriend and close friends were in Sheffield to cheer him on and will now be looking forward to watching him in the real thing in just over a month.
The fact that he saved his best performances for the final hurdle of the selection process speaks
volumes about the diver, who was only given a five per cent chance of survival.
The 19-year-old flew out to Mallorca on Tuesday with all those who had been slected for a two-week training camp. He will then recuperate for a week before heading to Southend for the final block of training before the Olympics.