I can happily report that everything is progressing well and I’m ahead of schedule a little over three weeks post-knee and ankle surgery. Surgery is never pleasant, but it has been necessary to keep me on track for the future where the bigger picture is Rio 2016.
Looking back on the 2013 season, it was, obviously, another successful one for me. I secured my fourth straight world title, retained my Diamond League crown and I have now extended my streak to 42 wins in a row.
But the year was also physically and mentally a tough one. I struggled with a knee problem in the couple of months or so leading into the Moscow World Championships – the biggest competition of the year – I was probably at 90-95 per cent. I had to overcome various niggles to win gold, but I’m always a fearsome competitor and have enormous pride in competing for my nation.
The right knee started playing up around late May early June this year. I was going to cut my season short, but I’m quite lucky in that I have a high pain threshold and I’m able to suck it up. On the advice of my team here in New Zealand and with the help of a Swiss knee specialist, I was given five shots of silicone, which gave me some temporary cushioning in the knee. My physio, Lou Johnson, also flew out three times to see me in Switzerland, which was a huge help in terms of my preparations.
The knee injury forced me to alter a lot of training sessions, especially squats in the gym, and every time I crouched in the back of the circle I was in pain. Yet I was able to work through this and achieve my goals for the season. My pain threshold is very high, that’s how I’m wired and that is one reason I was able to survive the year.
Surgery was inevitable. The knee needed a good clean up because of many years of overuse and the cartilage had become weakened. Surgeons drilled some holes into my femur, which was bled out and this acted like a shield to replace the cartilage.
I’d also had a longstanding issue with my left ankle and I felt an operation – to chisel a piece of bone from the back of the ankle – was also the right thing to do. I went in for surgery for both the knee and the ankle on the same day and I was back in the gym within a week.
Rehabbing, obviously, now takes priority. I’ve completed two full weeks in the gym, working on the upper body and carrying out lots of resistance cardio workouts. There are lots of long and high rep workouts, which is great for my endurance but it also helps keep me sane. I’m a person who loves to train. It is now just a case of being persistent and taking the recovery process one step at a time.
I am proud of my accomplishments this year and I’ve been listed as one of ten women’s candidates for the 2013 IAAF World Athlete of the Year award. I’ve been on the shortlist of three awards before, which is awesome. I’ve also never been to the IAAF Gala before (where the award winners are announced) but this year I would really like to travel to Monaco for the event. Whether I attend or not will obviously depend on how I’m progressing from the injury and what the medical experts say closer to the time, but it would be great to be there.
I’ve also recently turned 29, but because my birthday came shortly after surgery, it was a low-key affair. I hung out with my older sister, we went out for lunch and we went to watch Grown Ups 2 at the cinema. All I can say is next year when I celebrate my big 3-0, the day might be a little more manic.
This time of the season I like to really catch up with family and my nieces and nephews. I took my five-year-old nephew, Kingston, to New Caledonia for a trip at the end of my season and then, two days later, my eight-year-old niece, Valana, enjoyed some auntie time as we went to Tonga, the homeland of my mum, for a holiday.
I also went to see a friend of mine I hadn’t seen for 15 years (in Tonga) and we spent a lot of time lying on the beach. The Tongans are such awesome people and they claim me as their own because I’m half Tongan.
As for the future, every day in which I see progression from the surgery, I’m happy. My whole mind is set on being stronger for next year. I have lots of goals next year – Commonwealth Games, Continental Cup, World Indoors and the Diamond League. I still feel like I have unfinished business.
Until next time,