Six months after winning a silver medal at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, Abby Johnston’s Duke diving career has ended prematurely.
Head coach Drew Johansen announced Monday that the senior had surgery last week to repair a bone spur on her clavicle and ease inflammation in her acromioclavicular joint and will miss the remainder of the Blue Devils’ season.
Johnston was a three-time All-ACC selection and earned Duke’s first national title for women’s swimming and diving when she captured the 3-meter springboard competition at the 2011 NCAA Championships.
“It was a really tough decision for me. I was a mess the entire weekend,” Johnston said. “Just the thought of not being with the team and not competing in the ACC Championships was really hard for me. It’s still going to be really tough having to be on the sidelines supporting them while they compete, but ultimately I had to do what was best for me.”
The Upper Arlington, Ohio native had been suffering from the injury for more than a year. It affected her performance at the 2012 Olympic Trials, forcing her to withdraw from the individual competition after qualifying for the Olympic Games in the 3-meter synchronized competition with partner Kelci Bryant.
Johnston was able to compete for Duke just once this season, finishing first in the 1-meter springboard event in the Blue Devils’ meet against South Carolina Jan. 12. She spent the first half of the school year attempting to rehab her shoulder but could not muster the strength to complete the 3-meter event at the same meet.
“I thought that having a three-month break when I got back from the Olympics would help the inflammation go down, and I was going to be able to come back as good as new, but structurally my shoulder just didn’t hold up,” Johnston said. “As soon as I started training again the inflammation and irritation was back, and I just didn’t have the strength that I used to have in my arm.”
Johnston said she thought her international diving career was finished before the surgery, but she has now become open to the possibility of returning and making a run at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Until that decision is made, the senior will occupy herself with rehabilitation and medical school applications.
“I was pretty certain that I would be done because I had been in so much pain and was dreading practice, but now that I should be able to come back good as new, I should be able to come back to the sport if I want to,” Johnston said. “I’m much more tempted to come back for Rio, but right now I haven’t decided yet.”