Every athlete has a goal that he or she wants to accomplish throughout his or her athletic season, but these goals are not easily accomplished, as athletes battle other competitors and try to stay injury-free. Near the end of my final high school track and field season, I had a chance to achieve my goals of being the first North Port High School discus thrower to win districts and regionals in the same year and compete at the state meet.
However, on April 22, 2012, three days before the meet, my season took an unexpected turn. I was attending a track and field clinic to get in one last coaching session before my regional competition in discus. After a long day of drilling and throwing, the clinic concluded with a power quadrathalon, a four-event competition of a 40-yard dash, broad jump, triple hop and overhead shot put. We were onto the overhead shot put when I lost my balance and my foot got caught in a hole. Hearing a loud pop on my right ankle and feeling pain instantly, I immediately switched to my left foot, but the damage was done.
After school the next day, I went to my trainer for an analysis. I could barely walk, and I couldn’t practice without excruciating pain. My trainer told me that I had a minor sprained ankle. The thought of an injury and not being able to train for the competition was devastating. A minor sprained ankle may not be as critical as a fractured or broken ankle, but it still would prevent me from competing if it didn’t heal in time. The injury was on the right side where I put most of my weight when I throw, and I would not be able throw with one foot.
It was the first time I had suffered an injury. I was in tears with the thought of not winning districts and regionals to compete at the state meet. I was favored to win regionals all year and had the possibility of winning both districts and regionals in the same year.
All seemed lost with so little time to recover. After examination, I knew I would need more than two days to recover, but I never lost hope. For the next two days, I iced my ankle for 20 minutes and then rotated my ankle without the ice for 20 minutes. Using extra caution, I limited movement of my ankle so that I could avoid making the injury worse. I would walk lighter on my right foot and keep it elevated whenever I sat down.
As for practice the next day, I took it light by going through the motions of my discus technique and applying pressure lightly. When the time came to leave for the competition, I recovered just enough to where I felt I could still compete, but I still had my worries.
Because of my concerns, I had a slow start at the competition. Although I still performed well enough to secure a spot in the finals, I was not satisfied with my first three throws. Not willing to give up, I surged forward and trailed the leader by less than a foot going into my sixth and final attempt. With my ankle aching, I gave it my all, a last-ditched effort to steal the title.
My final attempt put me in the lead, but the other thrower still had his final attempt. Standing nervously, I could only wait and watch to see what would happen. His final throw went out of bounds. The pressure had gotten to him, and after leading through five throws, he placed second.
I let out a sigh of relief as I collapsed to the ground happy and triumphant. I achieved my goal to be the first North Port Thrower to win districts and regionals in the same year. After I got up from the grass, I went to hug my parents, coach and teammates. I then went to get ice for my ankle to relax and enjoy my victory. As I was sitting in the team tent with my first place ribbon, I kept thinking about what I had been through the last few days. I never gave up, I stayed positive, and, most importantly, I accomplished my goal ― which made it even sweeter to see the look on the kid’s face when I snatched the title from him.
Through this experience, all of my hard work paid off because I was committed to reach my goal, despite having such little time to recover from my injury. Injuries are not easy to overcome, but if there is a possibility, make sure you stay dedicated, determined and do not let anything keep you from reaching your goal. Had I just given up after the minor sprain, I would not be the first thrower of my school to win districts and regionals. I would not have my name on the regional champion banner inside the gymnasium, and, most importantly, I would not know what an amazing feeling it is to prevail in the midst of adversity.