Relief!

Athletics

Relief!

This year I experienced a lot of healing from the Achilles injury, says Thompson-Herah

Monday, September 14, 2020

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If there is one thing other than her form from this truncated season that Olympic sprint-double champion Elaine Thompson-Herah would love to take into next season's track and field, it would be her improved health.

After struggling through the past two seasons, Thompson-Herah has raced eight times this season ahead of her first international race on September 25 in Doha, Qatar, and so far she has yet to experience any ill-effects of the injury that has frustrated her for so long.

“It's almost September and I must say this is the best feeling for me right now and I don't want to get too happy, I just want to bring this into next season and continue to know how to work around the Achilles [injury],” she said in late August.

Speaking to Dalton Myers on The Drive Phase podcast, Thompson-Herah added: “It takes a lot because I have been doing so much strength work on it and it does not come from one area; the Achilles is attached to the calf and heel. I have been doing so much ankle work and calf raises, I just need to continue to work hard and stay focused.”

The 2016 Rio Olympic Games sprint-double champion concedes that injuries are part of the sport but bemoans this specific injury which has slowed her down since her fantastic seasons in 2015 and 2016.

“Athletes do face injuries and we all have our issues; I have been through that a lot, it is just for me to keep on hurdling those obstacles...the injuries when they come,” she said. “For me it's just that one injury that I have had being prolonged over the last few years, the Achilles. It is not something that is easy to feel, it is because it's the tendon and not a muscle I have to take a lot of precautions.”

Thompson-Herah, who has run three sub-11-second times in five 100m starts so far this year and is ranked number two in the world behind compatriot Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, continued: “The last two years I have had challenges pushing from the blocks. That was a major challenge for me. I think I have found many ways to work with it. I can manage it. I do a lot of stretches, a lot of rehab, a lot of treatment, and I think this COVID-19 has helped me to see how to manage this Achilles the best that I can...I try to do everything that I think can help and it is really helping.”

The 2020 season, which started late because of the novel coronavirus pandemic and during which she had raced exclusively in Jamaica, has been good to her so far. “I think this year I experienced a lot of healing and recovery from this Achilles, because the [last] couple of years I have been fighting, trying to find ways to fix it.”

There have been frustrations and setbacks she added. “I have been to so many doctors and doing so much rehab and each time in the year it blows up. It has a point in the year when it blows right up beyond my control and hinders me from performing. It is stressful. Mentally, sometimes when I am supposed to race I don't know if I am ready and I don't know if I am able to perform up to the level to please my fans and others, and at times that rests on my mind, even when I don't want to think about it, but I am a top calibre athlete and I have to think about that because I want to do well.

“I have never gone to a championships to lose, never. It's not something that I want to happen but it does happen, but as I said, I have found ways to work around this Achilles and I hope and pray that one day it will go away.”

In spite of her battles she has consistently run fast. “I always have my speed but it is because of the injures that hampers me and prevent me from showing the real speed, but this COVID-19 helped me to manage it better. I am not doing any travelling, as normally I would be back and forth and I am getting a lot of rest and it is helping to heal the Achilles and get it back to normal.”

Asked about how she dealt with criticisms from fans, she said she was able to deal with it because of her mental make up. “I never talk about my injuries and criticism does not bother me. I am tougher than what they think. They help to motivate me to get better and better; you can't stop people from talking. If you do good they talk, and if you do bad they will talk, so I think those people who criticise are the same ones when I win, will cheer for me.”


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