One of Britain’s brightest Olympic hopes, the 400-metres hurdler Tasha Danvers-Smith, spoke of both her joy and devastation over an unplanned pregnancy that has dashed her chances of an Olympic medal at Athens.
The newly-married south London athlete, who now lives in Los Angeles, admitted she was so shocked that she even briefly considered an abortion, before deciding she could not terminate the pregnancy.
“I had high hopes. I thought I had a good chance of getting a medal, if not a gold one. So it was quite devastating for me to find out I was pregnant” she said. “But now I feel so happy,” added the 26-year-old athlete, who married her American coach Darrell Smith, 33, in November.
Now 10 weeks pregnant Mrs Danvers-Smith, from Camberwell, South London, who was ranked sixth in the world last year, said all her hopes had been centred on the 2004 Olympics.
“I was in the shape of my life. I was more focused than ever before,” she said. “Then things didn’t feel quite right. I was feeling tired all the time, feeling flat for no reason.” Pregnancy never occurred to her because her cycle seemed normal, she said, and she suffered no morning sickness. “I was still training for my life”.
“The timing could not have been worse. If I had run at Athens it would have meant greater financial security, more recognition. There is nothing negative that can happen when you have a shot at an Olympic medal.
“I cannot lie, I considered an abortion. On the one hand you look at the situation and say, ‘I can have a baby and incur more costs, more problems.’ We don’t even have a house yet, we are staying with Darrell’s parents. And I am the major breadwinner.
“When my body is my business, then if my body is not functioning, there is no business.
“So the thought did cross our minds as an option. But this line from the Scriptures kept coming into my head: ‘For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?'”
“For me, the whole wide world was the Olympics. At the same time, I felt I would be losing my soul. It just wouldn’t fit well. It would be a forced decision. I would have had to have forced myself to do something I didn’t want to do. Even though, as much as I would love to go the Olympics and everything, it would be something that wasn’t going to make me happy at all.
“Even the thought of it depressed me. I cried thinking about it as I tried to convince myself this is what I should do, because it wasn’t the right time, and we didn’t have the finances. It just made me so upset.
“So then I knew. For me it was not going to be an option. And as soon as I decided that, I felt so happy. Even though I know it is going to be a struggle financially and that I am sacrificing my medal hopes.”