Alexandre Despatie, one of the most successful Canadian athletes of all time on the international stage, announced his retirement from competitive diving on Tuesday in Montreal.
"This sport gave me everything, and I learned so many important things that are going to help me in the next stage of my life," Despatie said in French. "My accomplishments, whether it was medals or difficult times in my life — I was able to come through all of that thanks to the people who were around me, o supported me."
Despatie won silver in the individual three-metre springboard at both the 2004 and 2008 Olympics and is the only diver ever to win gold in each of the 1-metre, 3-metre and 10-metre competitions at the world championships.
The Laval, Que., native competed in his fourth Olympics in London last year but couldn't land on the podium again after suffering a concussion in the weeks leading up to the competition.
Despatie hit his head on the board in Madrid in June 2012, requiring surgery to deal with a 10-centimetre gash on his forehead. He had also battled tendinitis in his knee in the months before his last Olympic peformance.
He eventually finished 11th in the three-metre springboard at the London Games.
Despatie first made a splash on the international stage at a mere 13 years of age, winning gold in the 10-metre plaform competition at the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Malaysia.
After finishing fourth in platform at the 2000 Sydney Olympics at 15, he reached the podium at the world championships for the first time the following year, with a silver in Fukuoka, Japan in the 10-metre event.
There are several candidates for his greatest athletic performance, but the 2008 Olympics were particularly satisfying to Despatie. Competing against the powerhouse Chinese in their home country, Despatie earned silver after fracturing his foot just four months earlier. He'd also been bothered by back problems in the run-up to Beijing.
Despatie thanked family, friends, and teammates, and the Canadian and Quebec associations and sponsors who helped him compete on the international stage.
Among those he specifically addressed was longtime coach Arturo Miranda.
"Arturo, you taught me many things," said Despatie. "We've been through quite a bit together and the most imporant part was you taught me to never ever stop fighting until it's over and that's going to be with me for the rest of my days."
Despatie, who turns 28 on Saturday, has dabbled in acting and broadcasting in recent years when not competing.
He said he'd like to continue pursuing broadcasting work.
All told, he amassed three world championship gold medals to go along with three silver. He won nine Commonwealth gold medals and two bronze, as well as four gold and three bronze at the Pan Am Games through the years.
Below, a rundown of Despatie's podium finishes at significant international competitions:
|1998||Commonwealth||Kuala Lumpur||Gold (10m platform)|
|2001||Worlds||Fukuoka||Silver (10m platform)|
|2002||Commonwealth||Manchester||Gold (1m springboard), Gold (3m springboard), Bronze (10m)|
|2003||Worlds||Barcelona||Gold (10m platform)|
|2003||Pan Am||Santo Domingo||Gold (3m spring), Gold (platform synchro), Gold (spring synchro), Bronze (10m)|
|2004||Olympics||Athens||Silver (3m spring)|
|2005||Worlds||Montreal||Gold (3m), Gold (1m)|
|2006||Commonwealth||Melbourne||Gold (1m), Gold (3m), Gold (spring synchro), Bronze (10m)|
|2007||Worlds||Melbourne||Silver (3m), Silver (spring synchro)|
|2007||Pan Am||Rio de Janeiro||Gold (3m), Bronze (spring synchro), Bronze (10m)|
|2009||Worlds||Rome||Bronze (3m), Bronze (spring synchro)|
|2010||Commonwealth||New Delhi||Gold (1m), Gold (3m), Gold (spring synchro)|