My elbow reconstruction was an opportunity in disguise.
October 15, 2010 marks one year on from the lowest point in my athletic career. One year ago I was inn hospital, lying on a surgeon’s table. I did not know if the reconstruction of my elbow would allow me to eat with a knife and fork again, let alone compete and chase my Olympic Dream.
Everything seemed to have gone wrong. On top of the surgery I was dealing with:
As if this wasn’t enough, then the IJF announced it was changing the rules of Judo from 2010, banning pretty much every technique I did well.
To be honest, I nearly gave up at this point.
I had trained for 17 years in a certain style of Judo. All I could do was wonder how the hell was I going to recover and essentially learn judo from scratch in time for the Olympic Qualification process, which was only seven months away.
A conversation with 3-time Olympian Daniel Kelly brought me round. He just flat out appealed to the ‘meathead’ in me. He said “what, are you going to give up? Is that who you are?” I decided that when I quit my sport, it would be on my terms, not on a hospital bed and not in a referee’s meeting.
I have been on the grind ever since. I decided that every rehab exercise I was given I would double and every target I was set I would beat. As a result, I was able to compete13 weeks after the operation (not 24 like the docs wanted, but shhhh).
Things have definitely improved for me. I am now #1 in Australia again, #1 in Oceania and World #29. I am well and truly on track for London 2012.
Every day I reflect back and remember how low I was. It motivates me to run an extra mile, lift an extra rep and fight an extra round; and I wonder if I would have this work ethic if I hadn’t gone through what I did.
‘Problems are opportunities in disguise.’
Henry J. Kaizer