Enjoying the time of your life for long extended periods of time can make it challenging to come to terms with retirement.

If only we could do what we love in a competitive or employment setting for our entire lives.

Tonia Couch is one of Great Britain’s most successful female divers ever and represented Team Great Britain at the Rio 2016 Olympics, her third time at the Games.

fciwomenswrestling.com article, European Aquatics Championships photo credit

Previously she had competed in Beijing and London.

Tonia eventually missed out on a medal but finished the women’s individual 10m platform diving final with a magnificent last dive.

Over an incredible 15-year career, Tonia has amassed an amazing 42 medals in National and International competitions.

fciwomenswrestling.com article, photo via pinterest.com

Born in Plymouth, Devon, England, let’s briefly review what has led her to this golden precipice.

Tonia was an accomplished competitive gymnast and due to an arm injury where it limited her ability to place weight upon it decided not to pursue gymnastics further.

She then came to Plymouth diving for a “trial” in September 1999, just four weeks later, she won her first competition, a novice event at Crystal Palace in London.

In February 2002, she became the youngest girl ever to qualify for the lottery funded Junior Olympic Program, when she took bronze in the junior girl’s platform event at the British Championships.

It was at that point that others recognized her exceptional talent on the diving platform.

Like many who strive for greatness there have been many triumphs and setbacks.

Competition for spots on international teams in the Women’s Platform event within Great Britain is extremely competitive fierce and Tonia has had her fair share of disappointments.

Still, she always bounces back and becomes even stronger and without a doubt, her two greatest triumphs have been on the greatest stages of all.

In 2008 and 2009, her eighth places at the Olympics and then the World Championships (the best result by a British female for 20 years), have secured her place in diving history.

She competed at the 2009 World Championships in Rome and at her second Commonwealth Games in 2010 in Delhi.

Tonia reached the World final again in 2011, finishing ninth in the 10m Platform.

In the 2014 season she finished fourth at the World Cup in Shanghai and at the March 2015 World Series event in Dubai, Tonia took third place in the 10m platform event.

Magnificent.

fciwomenswrestling.com article, photo via Zimbio.com

In Synchronized swimming, Tonia partners with Sarah Barrow.

At her dynamic site toniacouch.com they speak to this. “Tonia Couch competes in both the 10m Platform and Synchro. She broke through as an international contender on her Olympic debut in 2008 finishing eighth in the 10m Platform. She repeated the feat in the 2009 World Champs and the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi.

The 2010 Commonwealth Games also saw the formation of the fruitful pairing that is now Tonia Couch and Sarah Barrow, the pair finished fourth in the Synchro in Delhi.

In 2012 the duo shone with a European Gold and World Series Bronze and did incredibly well to finish 5th in front of a home crowd at the London Olympics.”

We love team work.

Why don’t we visit the village that raised and inspired Tonia.

Plymouth is a city on the south coast of Devon, England, about 37 miles south-west of Exeter and 190 miles west-south-west of London.

fciwomenswrestling.com article, photo By Robert Brimacombe – Wednesday 12thMarch 2008 wikimedia

It is a city in Devon, and currently the largest city on England‘s south coast, with a population of about 250,000.

Plymouth is one of England’s classic ocean cities, and for centuries has been a center for shipping; first for trade and commercial shipping, and today as a base for the Royal Navy.

Research indicates this historic town is a friendly city with an egalitarian feel and a sense of openness among its people, and there is less evidence of a sharp divide between rich and poor that is found in much of the southern half of England.

Plymouth has two universities. The main university, and the one most visitors notice, is the immense University of Plymouth, with around 30,000 students.

fciwomenswrestling.com article, photo By Graham Richardson from Plymouth, England – Flickr wikimedia

Plymouth’s early history extends to the Bronze Age, when a first settlement emerged at Mount Batten. This settlement continued as a trading post for the Roman Empire.

In 1620, the Pilgrim Fathers departed Plymouth for the New World and established Plymouth Colony – the second English settlement in what is now the United States.

That was the foundation, now for a little fun.

At the enticing tourist site visitplymouth.co.uk they welcome, “Come rain or shine you’ll find something for everyone among the city streets, surrounding countryside and marine environment beyond. There are well-known landmarks, historical sites and natural assets to explore across Plymouth’s many unique areas and districts.”

Plymouth’s city-center shopping area is the largest and most comprehensive in the West of England outside of Bristol.

A visit to the independent shops in the Barbican area are a must – particularly on New Street and Southside Street. Here you’ll find art and prints, antiques and collectables, and various intriguing shops.

The City Market is a covered indoor market of permanent stallholders with an elegant modernist building constructed in the 1950s.

fciwomenswrestling.com article, photo By Colin99 – Provided with full permission , Public Domain wikmedia

The impressive scalloped roof fills the market with natural light. Here you’ll find all manner of items for sale, including produce fresh from farms in the region and freshly-caught local fish, clothing, collectables and decorative items of very high quality.

One of favorite travel groups, lonelyplanet.com summarizes well. “For decades, some have dismissed Plymouth as sprawling and ugly, pointing to architectural eyesores and sometimes palpable poverty. But the arrival of high-profile chefs Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Mitch Tonks, and ongoing waterfront regeneration begs a rethink.

Yes, the city, an important Royal Naval port, suffered WWII bomb damage, and today it is still sometimes more gritty than pretty, but Plymouth is also packed with possibilities: swim in an art-deco lido; tour a gin distillery; learn to kayak; roam an aquarium; take a boat trip across the bay; then see a top-class theatre show and party till dawn. And the ace in the pack? Plymouth Hoe – a cafe-dotted, wide grassy headland offering captivating views of a boat-studded bay.”

Well after all of that, don’t you want to visit Plymouth, enjoy the shopping, walk with history and maybe relax on the beach?

We certainly hope that Tonia will bless us with more performances and even though her previous Olympic experience was at the age of 27, athletes are competing longer at the elite levels now more than ever before.

Hope springs eternal.

At her interview with independent.co.uk when asked about retirement she smiled, “I don’t think that’s the end of me just yet.”

We certainly hope not. Yummy.

fciwomenswrestling.com article, Toniacouch.com photo credit

When you are as great at what you do as Tonia, you are fully aware that this may be the spring board to future great achievements both in and out of the swimming pool.

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http://www.toniacouch.com/about/about-tonia

http://www.express.co.uk/sport/olympics/693378/tonia-couch-who-is-british-female-diver-rio-olympics-2016-when-to-watch

https://www.thesun.co.uk/sport/1575545/british-olympic-diving-champion-tonia-couch-is-a-perfect-10-and-ready-for-rio-glory/

https://bustedcoverage.com/2016/08/02/meet-tonia-couch-british-olympic-diver-photos-instagram-rio/

http://www.plymouthherald.co.uk/plymouth-s-tonia-couch-chases-olympic-medal-at-women-s-diving-final-in-rio/story-29634179-detail/story.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/olympics/rio-2016-tonia-couch-undeterred-despite-low-finish-in-womens-10m-platform-diving-final-a7198421.html

http://www.visitplymouth.co.uk/

https://en.wikivoyage.org/wiki/Plymouth_(England)

https://www.lonelyplanet.com/england/southwest-england/plymouth