I was really looking so forward to competing at the Taekwon-do National Championships and the Selections for the National Team as well starting my high school Track season.
Things had been going so well in all my training. My TKD training was at it’s very best and I’d never felt more comfortable sparring and my patterns felt strong and crisp. In track I was consistently throwing the disc 10 metres further than last summer so I couldn’t wait until my first meet. I know my shot put really improved as well. I only had one outside javelin training so I don’t know my distances but I know it was a lot further than last summer.
Three weeks ago at track I was throwing the javelin. Everything was perfect. I wasn’t tired and I was throwing really well! Then I took one throw and I have no idea what happened but half way through a throw I heard a pop and my arm just gave out on me. I immediately went to the ER since I knew something was definitely wrong. I have a high pain tolerance and this was not good! It was such a fluke accident that I was absolutely puzzled.
I had an x-ray and an ultra-sound. Neither showed anything but they suspected a bad strain and a little bit of tearing in the pronator teres since there was so much pain. Only an MRI would determine anything for sure but that can take months to get an appointment.
I met with 3 different doctors hoping I would hear some good news but they all said the same thing and they all told me that I would not be competing at either Nationals or the track season. I felt like my heart had been ripped out of my chest.
I called my favourite physiotherapist Dr. Anthony Aiello who has taken care of me over the years and he saw me right away. He knows me well and knows how important these competitions mean to me. We started physio right away. I worked so hard everyday doing exactly what he told me to do. I also met with a sports medicine doctor, Dr. Noel De Tilly since I knew I couldn’t be stupid about things.
After getting all the facts and the risks I agreed that I would not compete in track since I simply can’t do the motions at all so my body made the decision for me. I also agreed that I would not compete at the TKD Nationals. However after a couple days I realized I could not live with the decision. I felt so lost. I was actually sick to my stomach thinking that I would not compete in sparring at the World Championships. I decided to risk it and compete with one arm.
I have worked everyday since the last World Championships preparing for these Nationals. My goal is to bring back a gold in Patterns and a gold in Sparring from Spain. I told Dr. Aiello, Dr. Noel de Tilley and my coach Mr. LeGrow my decision and they all agreed to work with me but I could tell they were nervous. Dr. Aiello did a great job taping my arm, writing letters to the CTFI Umpire Committee for approval of the tape and he kept changing my physio exercises. Dr. Noel De Tilly also made sure that I was ready mentally to get into the ring knowing that I would only have the use of one arm so she understood the dangers as well. Mr. LeGrow has worked on my foot work and strategy for so long with me that he had complete faith in my ability and was always reassuring.
Everyday I got stronger and everyone was surprised by my improvement. Three weeks ago I couldn’t even brush my own hair and getting dressed was a challenge. As time got closer to the Nationals my mom came and held the shields for me really late one night when the dojang was closed so I could see if I was able to punch at all. I wanted to see what I would be able to do in a fight if I had to. It was definitely only about 50% the strength of what it normally is so I knew I couldn’t count on it. I also knew that if I damaged the tears anymore that it might require surgery and I don’t have time to recover from that. I had to count on my kicks and block with only one arm. The other arm was going to have to be completely useless.
I promised my parents that if I didn’t feel good enough on the day of the competition I would not compete but I had to at least train as if I was going so I could stay mentally strong. It’s dangerous getting into the ring if you have doubts.
The hardest thing was not telling anyone about my arm since I didn’t’ want my competitors to know I was injured in case my arm became a target. I also kept getting emails from people asking why I haven’t been at track meets or other trainings but I didn’t want anyone to know.
It killed me missing out on the school track season since it was also my opportunity for OFSSA and I knew I was going to have a great season since the winter training was go good. I still helped coach all the throwers for the school team but I wanted to be throwing with them too. Not only am I disappointed but I also felt like I let my school down as well as my Club (Ottawa Lions Track and Field) coaches down since they put in so many hours all winter coaching me.
Our high school and community also had a huge tragedy last week. A friend (Rowan Stringer) that I’ve gone to school with since elementary school had an accident in rugby. She had a couple concussions within a week of tournaments and ended up in an induced coma and passed away from the head trauma. This also weighed very heavy on my mind and in my heart. I felt so bad for her and her family. We live in a small community where everyone knows everyone so it really affected all of us. At school everyone was so upset and the atmosphere was very somber. No one ever really knows how to deal with something like this. I didn’t want to be disrespectful but I knew I had to remove myself from the school since it was really affecting me. It also just reinforces how serious head injuries are and it’s something we have to think about as athletes especially in contact sports. I couldn’t go to Rowan’s visitation or her funeral since I was in Quebec City but my thoughts were still with my friends and her family back home. I wanted to know everything that was going on but I also knew I had to isolate myself for the weekend. I’m still in shock from it since I haven’t really dealt with it yet. I know it will hit me more when I get back to school and don’t see her.