Not Ligament To Be

Apologies it’s taken so long for an update peeps, truth is it’s been quite difficult to come to terms with, yet alone put into words, how the last 6 weeks have played out…

Not long after my last update I learnt what no athlete wishes to learn 4 weeks before Olympic Trials for a home Games that they’ve been working towards for years. In a small treatment cubicle in North Birmingham, on a damp Thursday morning, physio Mike translated the results of a ‘precautionary’ MRI scan; and in no uncertain terms my worst fears were confirmed.

“I’m afraid it’s not good news, you’ve suffered a serious injury. Your cruciate ligament has ruptured”

I reached to repeatedly hit the ‘rewind button’. Nothing happened. So instead I sat patiently and waited for the “but”. It never came.

In an irreversible instant you’re forced to accept that a dream you’ve clinged to for years is no longer attainable and that the foreseeable future will be a drastically different picture to the one crayoned in your head. Not to mention, as Mike would go on to warn, having to entertain the possibility that you may never be able to return to hurdling and doing what you love to do… Woah, Woah, Woah, hold on just a minute!!!

Did I cry? Obviously not, but thank you for inquiring – it was just a bit of hayfever.

Although, it has taken a while to contend with the shock of it all. Had I been stretchered off the Belgian track after falling I think I would have been more prepared for news of this kind. But having got up straight away, in only mild discomfort, dusted myself off – even opting to walk back to the hotel instead of waiting for the shuttle – I was more annoyed at the time (about the wasted trip and the fact I’d have to wait a whole four days for my next shot at the Olympic A standard) than I was concerned about any serious damage. At worst I thought I’d perhaps bruised the knee cap and that it might be sore for a week or two. But alas, the first time I’ve ever fallen in a race in 9 years of hurdling has brought about one of the worst injuries anyone can suffer in a non-contact sport. What are the chances?!

An unashamedly cruel ending to what has otherwise been a very promising year so far *cue miniature violin solo* but in all seriousness I’m determined to seize opportunity through adversity. The good news is that I don’t require surgery, the remainder of 2012 will consist of rehab, rehab and plenty more rehab but I have a great team around me, a sound rehabilitation program, and I’ll be using the extra time to focus on other aspects of my regime and lifestyle that limited time would normally neglect.

Philosophical snapback on for just a moment: As I’m quickly learning, life as a professional athlete is one hell of an emotional rollercoaster, the highs are high, sudden twists and turns come unannounced and the lows when they come – which they will – are very… very low! Such wouldn’t be as agonising, if ‘progression’ and ‘just reward’ were uniform products of ‘hard-work’ and ‘talent’. Unfortunately the deeper you look the more you realise it’s not always that straightforward. Opportunity, personality and serendipity seem to have as much a steer on ‘success’ as hard work and talent do. Therefore stepping onto the rollercoaster without any guarantee that your hard-work, single minded focus and natural talent will necessarily take you to the heights you so desire is a tough thing to do.

That said my quest remains undeterred, if not a little more challenging. Funding is now going to be THE major hurdle over the next 12-24 months in the lead up to our home Commonwealth Games, but this experience is only stoking my fire. I still firmly believe that hard work and sacrifice do pay off – but I’ll never again forget to read the asterixed small print that details: ‘but not necessarily at a time of your choosing’.

A huge thank you to everyone who has supported me this year, our time will come! Special thanks to my family and friends, who continue to be an immense help throughout this setback, and to my sponsor Blue Mountain Water for sticking by me through thick and thin. A final thanks to Quentin Cooper (BBC Radio 4 broadcaster, friend and all-round extraordinary person) for inspiring the title of this blog in an exchange of emails a couple of days after the MRI scan results – it made me beam with laughter at a time I just wanted to cry, a sentiment which pretty much sums up the fine line we tread in professional sport.

@JulzAdeniran

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About JA

professional athlete
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