Olympic Diver Blake Aldridge plans to bounce back after assault charge wrecked his reputation.
PUBLISHED: 11:32 26 August 2010 | UPDATED: 11:33 26 August 2010
He had been accused of punching the security guard after being challenged over some wine on February 19, but it took Bromley magistrate Lynne Ramsay just minutes to dismiss the case after prosecutor Adi Randall told the court that he had no evidence to present and that the security guard had not turned up and was uncontactable.
In an interview with the Times, the diver who partnered 14-year-old diver Tom Daley at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, says his life was turned upside down by the unfair allegations that have brought his sport into disrepute.
Speaking from the National Sports Centre in Crystal Palace after a training session on Tuesday Mr Aldridge said: “I am pretty down and disappointed that I was ever put in this situation.
“I have known that I was innocent the whole time, yet people treated me as if I was guilty, that is hard to deal with.
“Every time something bad happens, your face is plastered all over the papers, even if there is hardly any evidence, and unfortunately mud sticks.
During the 2008 Olympics in Beijing Mr Aldridge had a high profile falling out with his diving partner, 14-year-old Tom Daley, after using his mobile to speak to his mother in between dives in the 10m synchronised dive final in the Water Cube.
And last year he needed 10 stitches in his face after being beaten up on the dancefloor of a nightclub in Southampton.
He said: “It upsets me that my mum has been dragged into this too. She has been my rock throughout my career, she was the one sitting by the pool supporting me when I was kid.”
He added: “I have lived with my mum all my life and she is my best friend, she knows me better than anyone else in the world – so of course I call her when the chips are down.”His mother Debbie says she always knew her son was innocent.
She said: “Blake has dedicated 23 years of his life to his sport.
“I am really angry because this thing has wrecked our lives for all the time it has been hanging over our heads. People were shunning me, even when I went to walk my dog in the park people would ignore me. People have unfairly labelled him as trouble.”
After having to pull out of the European Championships in Budapest last month when he got a small tear in his left tricep, Mr Aldridge says that his priority now is to keep training and to qualify for the London Olympic games in 2012.
He also wants to restart his work inspiring youngsters through the Sport for Schools programme, which was forced to drop him when the allegations first surfaced.
He added: “I want the opportunity to inspire children to get into sports instead of being on the streets, and that can only be a good thing.”
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