British Olympic diver Alicia Blagg has been forced to abandon her bid for the Tokyo Olympics and retire from the sport at 23 after a “heartbreaking” shoulder injury.
Blagg dealt with depression and anxiety after two major wrist operations and became one of Britain’s most decorated female divers.
She competed at London 2012 and Rio 2016 and won multiple European and Commonwealth medals during her career.
However, Blagg has been unable to recover from a labrum tear sustained last year.
“It’s still in so much pain and it’s time I listened to my body,” she told BBC Sport.
Blagg suffered her first major wrist injury in 2013 and despite surgery she needed cortisone injections in order to be able to compete at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.
With partner Rebecca Gallantree, they produced one of the most iconic moments of the Games with cameras capturing their stunned faces after a shock victory in the 3m synchro springboard final.
“Competing at London 2012 was magical but the Commonwealth gold was the best feeling ever because we just didn’t expect it,” she said.
After the 2016 Olympics, where the pair finished fifth, Blagg moved to the USA where she had further surgery while studying criminology and sociology at the University of Miami.
In 2018 she looked in career-best form and in addition to claiming her maiden major individual international honour – with European silver – Blagg also won a host of medals in the prestigious American college sport system.
She injured her shoulder during training in May 2019 and attempted to return to diving in a bid for a third Games at Tokyo, but is still unable to lift her right arm above her head.
“In my mind I just couldn’t keep doing this,” she said.
“I openly talk about seeing a psychologist and about the medication I was on to help with my anxiety and depression because mental health is so important.
“Fighting the demons in my head is exhausting so I’m ready to let my body feel normal physically and mentally.”
After completing her undergraduate degree online – due to the coronavirus lockdown – Blagg is hoping to move to Edinburgh later in the year and study for a masters in forensic psychology with criminology.