The 2016 Olympics Games have begun, kicking off just over two weeks of athletic competition in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. More than 11,000 athletes are expected to take part in the 42 Olympic sports, including fan favorites like gymnastics, swimming, soccer, track and field, basketball, cycling and many more.
Every four years Olympic athletes serve as a reminder of what we can achieve, demonstrating focus, skill, discipline and perseverance. Their physical preparation and competitiveness are on display on the world’s biggest stage. However, some of these athletes also face challenges and limitations that are common to normal people, including foot injuries. But their resilience shows that a foot injury can be overcome, just like any other obstacle in life.
Some of the athletes the world will be watching are bouncing back from foot injuries sustained just months ago, as they prepared for the 2016 Rio Games. Nobody wants the downtime of a foot injury or even foot surgery, but the athletes below are great examples of how it’s possible to recover and step back into elite competition.
Allyson Michelle Felix is a track and field sprinter from the USA. She won the 200 meter race at the 2012 Olympic games in London. She is a three-time world champion and a two-time Olympic silver medalist, the most decorated female sprinter in U.S. history. She suffered a right ankle injury in April 2016 while training. She landed on a medicine ball during a core workout, forcing her to change her training to accommodate the injured ankle.
“I’ve never seen my ankle that big before, and it happened just immediately,” she said. “When it happened, there were a number of thoughts running through my head. A scary moment.”
However, she is determined to compete on August 13th, 15th and 19th for the final women’s 200m, 400m and 4 x 400m relay respectively. “I set those goals long ago,” she added. “I wanted to fight to be able to have that opportunity. I don’t know if I’ll ever have it again.”
Usain Bolt, known as the “fastest man alive,” is a six-time Olympic champion representing Jamaica. He’s the 100m and 200m world record holder is an exceptional athlete who showed that a foot injury can be overcome. He underwent foot surgery in 2014 and still came back to win the 2015 World Championships, even when people thought that his career was over. This year, he suffered a Grade 1 hamstring tear at the Kingston National Championships on June 30. However, he is determined not to allow these setbacks to keep him from successfully defending his 2012 gold medal wins at the 100m (August 13), 200m (August 16) and 4 x 100m (August 183) events in Rio.
Bedan Karoki is a silver medalist at the World Half Marathon and World Cross Country championships, and a gold medalist at the All-African Games. He had hamstring and an Achilles tendon injury on March 1, 2016, after winning the World Half Silver medal in Cardiff. Bedan Karoki is hoping to come back strong in Rio in the Men’s 10,000 meter race on August 13.
Jess Trengove, is a Marathoner from Australia. She was diagnosed with a stress fracture of the left foot in April 2016 and underwent lots of treatment and training in preparation for the Rio Olympic Games. However, in 2014 she had a similar injury to her right foot and still managed to win bronze in the marathon at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games. She will be competing on August 14th. Trengove says, “I’ll just be grateful to be able to run and certainly won’t be taking it for granted. I’ve had to work closely with the doctor, podiatrist and physio to firstly determine what factors contributed to it and then how to let it heal – and it’s all on track so I’m really happy about that.”
These Olympians show that foot injuries are common, and must be dealt with under expert medical care and attention. However, the effects of the injury aren’t necessarily life-altering or debilitating. If these athletes can modify their rigorous training and still be competitive at the Olympic Games within a few months, then we should all be hopeful that with proper treatment and recovery, we can also resume our normal lives after a foot injury. It may take us a little longer, but we can get there.
Have you recently sustained a foot or ankle injury? If you experience any discomfort or pain, it is important to see an experienced board-certified foot care specialist to accurately diagnose and treat your problem. At Houston Foot & Ankle Care, Dr. Gabriel Maislos and his staff use advanced technology to ensure the most effective treatments for each individual patient. From stress fractures, achilles tendinitis, sprains, heel pain and plantar fasciitis to diabetic foot problems, Dr. Maislos has the expertise to treat any podiatric condition. Please call our Houston office at (713) 541-3199 to schedule an appointment!