It’s been a quiet Summer on this front, and I must admit it’s been like that on purpose. But I owe you an explanation on what has been going on, so here it is.
In the Spring, things were progressing nicely and I was looking forward to a two-title-race-Summer. It was a great Spring in the new training group and the results were promising. Unfortunately, problems started soon after coming back to Europe. My foot, the one that was injured last Summer, gave me some concerning signs at the beginning of June and this time I reacted immediately. I got a hold of a Swiss foot specialist, Laurent Hoffmann, whom I flew to see in Switzerland. I got a clear message: the mechanics of my footwork were straining the navicular bone and would cause further problems if not fixed. I was also told that the foot could be calmed down by making changes in the way I step. However, it is rarely a simple process and can cause challenges before the body gets used to the new way of functioning. Nevertheless, I chose to make the necessary changes immediately – I was fed up with the same problem popping up again and again.
Soon after the necessary actions were taken, my foot was painless again. Great! Right? However, as the foot specialist suspected, the changes we made, had their toll on the rest of my body – specifically on my knees. The European Championships were around the corner and luckily I had run the qualifying standards on both 100m and 200m already in Florida, so I didn’t need to bother my head with them. My knees, on the other hand, were giving me trouble and I wasn’t able to train the way my coach had planned. I wanted to believe to the very end that I could fight and get the knee pain to a tolerable state, but that was not the case. The day before I was supposed to travel to Amsterdam to the European Championships, the pain was still intolerable and made it impossible for me to even accelerate, let alone run full speed in spikes. It ate me inside that the injury was not a clear cut torn muscle or broken bone. It was “just” an unfamiliar excrutiating pain that was caused by my body not yet accepting the new way of working. For better or for worse, (for worse in this case) it meant skipping European Championships, which in turn meant giving up on my Olympic dream, since the time for hitting the Rio standards ended with the European Championships.
The disappointment of having to let go of a goal that I had aimed for for years was of course overwhelming. It took me a long time to accept and process it. From the bottom of my heart I want to thank everyone who sent me supportive and uplifting messages, even the ones who didn’t know what to say and reached out anyway. I won’t deny it, I was in a dark place and did not know how to continue. When I thought that last Summer was tough, I hadn’t seen or experienced anything, yet. It was a walk in a park compared to this.
I gave my body some rest and was able to get the knees to a state that I could participate in our Nationals. I ran to support my club, because I couldn’t thank them enough for their support during these last few years. I wasn’t able to run on my level, but I was happy that I could still run two runs. Afterwards, it was clear that the pain wouldn’t let me run the 200m properly. I consulted my coach and we decided to wrap the season there.
Only now, after more than a month has passed, I am starting to see positive things in all of this. It’s been a personal hell, but I am not naíve. I know I am not the only athlete who had to give up on their Olympic dream and I know it is only up to me how I pick myself up and continue. I have a lot to look forward to - moving to Florida and getting to start my first full year with my new team in Clermont. In the end I chose health over everything else and, even though it’s a horrible cliché, isn’t it the adversity that makes us stronger?
Greetings from far far outside my comfort zone,
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