Latvia’s 2015 world bronze medallist Laura Ikauniece-Admidina is among the world’s leading heptathletes. Here the talented 25-year-old talks about her pride in overcoming an injury-riddled build-up to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
“I had enjoyed a good winter’s training in the countdown to the 2016 outdoor season, setting a long jump personal best of 6.49m during the indoor season. Everything appeared on track for a good showing in Götzis in my first heptathlon of the year.
“Every time I compete in a heptathlon, I want to set a national record and I achieved my goal with a total score of 6622, but it came at a heavy price. In the long jump, I hurt my foot on the take-off board and I recall running the 800m in a lot of pain. I was later diagnosed with an inflammation of the foot. Besides this injury, I’d also been managing a longstanding issue with jumper’s knee.
“Following Götzis, I missed a lot of specific jumps and hurdles training. Then, when running a 100m PB of 11.78 in Valmiera, I aggravated my hamstring. This problem then worsened when competing in the 100m hurdles at the European Championships in Amsterdam (Ikauniece-Admidina exited the heats in a modest 13.51).
“In the countdown to Rio, I became increasingly afraid to push my hamstring and much of my running training was limited to endurance work on grass.
“Then in my final training camp before Rio, my former coach and I made a massive decision to switch my take-off leg in the high jump from the left to the right leg because of the jumper’s knee. This was very stressful as we were so close to the biggest competition of my career.
“I had taken off on my right leg for fun before but never seriously. I found the change very difficult. I was leaning my head to the wrong side and putting my wrong arm in the air at take-off.
“In Rio, I was very relieved to get through the hurdles and that my hamstring was fine. I was also pleased to jump 1.77m off my right take-off leg (Ikauniece-Admidina’s high jump PB is 1.85m) even though my technique must have looked awful. At the end of day one I was placed ninth overall and although I was not too happy with my overall position, I knew my day two was stronger and I was still fighting.
“I had a disappointing start with a 6.12m long jump, but I threw a big PB of 55.93m in the javelin. In the 800m I told myself despite all the injuries I only had two more laps to run so I had to push myself to the limit. I was really pleased to run another PB (2:09.43) and to finish fourth overall, just five points short of my national record.
“I was immensely proud to finish fourth after all the problems I had endured. To me, it proved I can overcome many hurdles and still perform to a high level. This fills me with a lot of confidence for the future.”
Steve Landells for the IAAF