I’ve always been a big planner, never happier than when I’ve got a plan to follow, albeit I’m happy to adapt it and be flexible as needed….as long as there’s another plan to implement!
As an athlete you always have a plan about what you want to achieve and how you will go about it.
Matt (my coach) and myself had a plan for 2018… get bigger, get stronger & make the boat faster!
And we did, we worked tirelessly all winter smashing out gym sessions, battling the harsh weather on the water and eating anything not nailed down and we got faster… faster than either of us thought we could. The racing season started in May and we unexpectedly broke the world record in both boats (thanks partly to a large tailwind), smashing the 49sec barrier and becoming the fastest women in the world ever in the kayak!
We’d hit a peak earlier than expected and tried to build on this through the season until the main goal, the World Championships in late August. We’d won two World Cup golds, two European golds, we’d broken the world’s fastest times in both boats, we were flying.
Photo Credits: Vekassy ICF
And then the plan went wrong… we had an accident in the gym. Accidents happen but when they are avoidable it’s frustrating, it’s devastating, you blame yourself for that moment of complacency that derails your plan and can send you spiralling into despair.
My wrist was damaged, really damaged, a subluxed bone and ruptured ligaments, just before the competition we’d been aiming for and working towards all year. It threw me, a mix of emotions and self-obsessed pity – ‘why me?’ ‘I’ve worked so hard?’ ‘this is so unfair?’ – but surrounded and supported by the right people we made a new plan and headed off in a slightly different direction.
The injury was what it was… we couldn’t turn back the clock, we couldn’t undo the accident, but we could choose to make the most of it.
We accessed the best surgeon and sought the best advice, I couldn’t wheel my wheelchair or transfer pain free but bizarrely I could paddle my boat. The surgeon said we couldn’t do any more damage, so we decided to carry on, to learn as much as we could about preparing to perform on the world stage with an injury and knowing we weren’t quite as fit as we would have liked to be.
Photo Credits: Vekassy ICF
We would get the surgery to get it fixed after the World Champs. Athletes rarely always line up at 100% so the chance to practice and learn from the experience was too valuable to miss.
My teammates were amazing, supporting me and helping me in the usually stressful last few days before competition. The banter about the mobility scooter I was now forced to use helped keep the mood light. My focus was now about thriving in this situation and being the best athlete I could. My teammates Charlotte & Jeanette had been pushing me all year with us grabbing the gold & silver at every major competition – no mean feat given the progression of our fast-moving sport.
So, as I lined up I knew it would be the toughest races of my life, but line up I did, confident that I had battled the demons of self-doubt that rise their ugly heads when injury strikes, having conquered the fear of what might or might not happen and totally relaxed and focussed on delivering the best 200m I could.
And that’s exactly what I did. I couldn’t have imagined being able to feel that relaxed and ready when we were faced with the injury news a week earlier, but I did and I was taking home – with a silver & gold medal tucked in my bag – a horrifically painful wrist but a huge smile of pride as I travelled back to face the unknown as we headed into surgery….