We travelled up to Glasgow as a team a week before the competition officially started to train, play a few warm up games and get used to village life. In our last training game against India, the day before the opening ceremony, I slipped and something locked in my knee. I got rushed straight back to the athletes’ village for a scan and found out that I had torn the cartilage in my knee and it had flipped and locked. That was it. I was going to have to go home for surgery. So on the morning of the opening ceremony, as the Welsh netballers were just arriving at Glasgow airport, I was waiting in a wheelchair for my flight back to Cardiff, completely and utterly heartbroken. I had worked so hard to get back from injury the previous year and I was going to have to start from scratch and do it all over again.
Finding a new focus
As any sportsperson will tell you, being injured can be a very lonely place. You go from being in that team environment, or competing on a circuit with the same familiar faces, to suddenly being alone. That’s the nature of sport, you’re always going to have someone there fighting to take your place. In total I was out for two years. Those were some of the most mentally tough years I’d ever had to go through. Sport had always been my stress release and after those days in the lab where everything had gone wrong, there was nothing I loved more than going to hit a hockey ball or going for a run. But as I went into my second year of university I was hit with the fact that I wasn’t going to be able to run until at least the new year, and I wasn’t going to be able to play hockey for a long time after that.
That was when I had to put my focus into something else. All I can say is I’m glad I did. Second year chemistry: what a treat! During this time away from hockey I was now able to focus on my studies, meet new people, go to the gym, and spend more time with my family on the weekends, something I’m forever grateful for. I constantly switched between fighting to get back on the pitch and not wanting to go back to hockey at all. While I went through the rehab process there were setbacks which constantly knocked me back and progress was slow. At times it felt like I was taking one step forward and two steps back, however the friends I’d made through my course now became my agony aunts, my motivators and my training partners. They helped keep things in perspective.
Never look back
I went away on placement and continued the rehab, but something wasn’t quite right with my knee and when I went to have a check-up with my consultant we discovered that the initial operation to save the cartilage hadn’t worked and I’d have to go back into surgery to have it removed. In the summer of 2016, two years after the injury, I was back in hospital having the cartilage removed.