Helen Richardson-Walsh pushes the boundaries towards the Commonwealth Games
A-Star Sports ambassador Helen Richardson-Walsh writes about her experience of recovering from injury and pushing the boundaries towards the Commonwealth Games:
The highs and lows of sport are well documented; you either win or lose, and very rarely is there middle ground. My 2013-14 season has been just that, but my lows have been caused by a re-occurrence of a back injury, which has cost me the chance to realise my dream of becoming World Champion.
On the back of winning a silver medal with England at the European Championships, my season started with my club Reading as we set out to defend our outdoor and indoor league titles. For me it was also about regaining full fitness, as I was still building from back surgery I’d had earlier in the year. As the club season rolled on the first international tournament of the season was in November at the World League Finals in Argentina. As I mentioned in my last blog we won the bronze medal beating the host nation on a penalty shootout to take our place on the podium.
It was in the indoor game where my success came this year. A good league campaign with Reading lead us to the Indoor finals in front of a packed house at Wembley, which is the premier event of the club season. We faced an experienced Bowdon Hightown team but everything we did that day went right, and I scored the first and last goals in a 9-2 victory making us champions for the second year on the bounce.
Due to our success in the previous season meant we would also represent England in Europe. I was to see a new part of the world for this tournament as Lithuania was our destination and promotion to the top Division was the main aim. It was a cracking tournament, which I enjoyed hugely; we hit our target so we’ll join the top league next year to put ourselves up against the very best in European hockey.
Unfortunately that is where my club season would end. On returning from Lithuania I found out I would need my second back surgery in just eleven months. What made that worse was that the World Cup, the premier competition after the Olympic Games was thirteen weeks after my operation date. I faced a race against time. Knowing it would be a tall order I fought every single day, giving everything I had to get back in time.
Having experienced injury before I was fully aware of the emotional rollercoaster I was about to go on. I decided to blog about my journey in a bid to help me cope with what was to come. You can see my blog at www.backtomybest.blogspot.co.uk, which I found a very cathartic process. What I didn’t expect was the amazing response I got from the hockey family and beyond as they supported and encouraged me along the way.
Even though I had pushed all the boundaries and got back onto the pitch just before selection, on the 2nd May my heart was well and truly broken when I found out I hadn’t quite done enough and wouldn’t be representing England in The Hague. The emotional rollercoaster continues and watching the team take part will be a painful one.
There is however still one very big tournament to continue to get fit for. The Commonwealth Games will be a celebration of sport, a sequel to London’s Olympic Games as Glasgow proudly take up the mantel. Having already won a silver and two bronze medals this is a gold medal I would dearly love to get my hands on. So as I deal with many internal feelings, I will continue to battle on to put myself in the best possible place.
Helen Richardson Walsh, May 2014