Kiwi diver reflects on Covid-19 infection as talks persist around Olympics vaccinations

“It was really scary,”

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Anton Down-Jenkins got the virus after returning to the US last year and felt its effects for months. Source: 1 NEWS

That's how New Zealand diver Anton Down-Jenkins has described the experience of testing positive for Covid-19.

But with the Olympics less than three months away, there continues to be discussions about vaccinations and precautions that most Kiwi athletes have little experience of outside New Zealand's relatively safe bubble.

Down-Jenkins’ experience stemmed from a return to university in the US last year where soon after he tested positive for the coronavirus.

“It was really scary getting that positive test result back,” he told 1 NEWS.

“I would be lying if I said that I'm not a little bit worried to see if I have any health issues that arise in the future.”

While his symptoms were mild - a chesty cough and body aches - it was on the diving board that the virus really took its toll.

“I actually did see a really big effect on my respiratory system coming back to training,” he said.

“I got out of breath so fast, physically I felt, for like two or three months, I just felt nowhere near my peak performance,”

Fast forward to this week and Down-Jenkins, thankfully, is back near his peak with the 21-year-old diving into the history books with New Zealand’s best finish at a diving world cup.

“To finish eighth in the prelims, sixth in the semi-finals and make the final, that was something I was totally totally unprepared for.”

That’s where the unpreparedness ends though, with Down-Jenkins taking no chances with Covid-19 anymore; he's now been fully vaccinated and still wears a mask everywhere he goes.

“As an athlete, I think it's one of the last things you want, it's not fun to have.”

New Zealand athletes competing at the Olympics won't be required to have the vaccine and 1 NEWS understands some have no plans to get it.

New Zealand Olympic Committee Kereyn Smith told 1 NEWS they’re trying to help athletes as best they can with the situation.

“We're just gradually talking to people through the medical pathway, psychology pathway, performance pathway to help them understand the risks of not having a vaccine and the benefits of having one.”

The NZOC is also still working through the bubble system and hasn't decided if unvaccinated athletes will be separated from those who are vaccinated.