World 4x400m champion and Olympic 4x400m silver medallist Christine Day has been among the leading one-lap runners for the past few seasons. But to reach her current status, the Jamaican has had to overcome a longstanding knee injury.
Persevering past the pain
I was a student from a high school without a developed track programme, so for my first couple of years when I started at UTEC MVP, I remember being so weak that I couldn’t complete a workout.
In my third year I made a vow to myself that my aim is to finish every workout, even if it means being the last one on the track. That’s what I did and in 2009 I enjoyed my breakout year, running 51.54 and making my first major championship team for the World Championships in Berlin.
Then about a month or so before Berlin, I picked up a meniscus injury on my knee and I couldn’t walk. I still competed in Berlin, but because of the pain, I was eliminated in the semifinals, running 53.46. I was very disappointed because I couldn’t perform how I knew I can.
The injury persisted in 2010 and 2011. I was very limited in terms of how much I could train. Even when I was walking, I was in pain. It was like having a cut on your foot – that’s how painful it was. I was so over it. I thought, ‘how am I going to beat these girls who are running so fast if I can only complete half the training?’
In 2011 I competed at the Penn Relays but then a month before the Jamaican Championships, my knee blew out again. I rang up my friend Kaliese Spencer and I said, ‘I’ve had enough, I’m not going to do track and field anymore. I can’t do this. I can’t even train properly.’
Yet she was the one who motivated me to give the sport one more try. She told me to give it one more season.
I stuck with it and in 2012 I made my first Olympic team. Had I given up the year before, I would never have run at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Even though I’m running faster now than I did back then, I consider the 2012 season to be one of my biggest achievements. And I never would have achieved all of that had my friend not helped.
Steve Landells for the IAAF