I write this blog from the rehab room where I’ve been spending so much of my time since we got home from India where we were competing in the Premier Badminton League (PBL). You might remember how excited we were to compete for the Chennai Smashers. It was something we’d looked forward to for so long. The trip was going well, and then disaster struck in our third game, our ‘trump’ game no less, when I clipped Chris’s foot, heard a pop and hit the floor. I remember trying to cut out a shot at the net, and turned out that Chris was much closer to me than I’d thought. The official diagnosis from the doctor here at home – ligament damage and a bruised bone. Clearly this is not how we’d envisaged starting off the year!
Onto the positives of the Indian trip though, because there were many. The whole experience of playing in the PBL was amazing. Being part of a big travelling team was as fun as it was unique. We laughed our way through the few weeks we were out there, and gave our all on the court when it was our turn to represent the team. The intensity of the league is such that you develop a kind of friendship on steroids with your teammates that leaves for some wonderful memories that will last forever. I should also add that the food was incredible and the opportunity to travel round India and see parts of the country we’d never been to before was a real privilege.
So here we are back home, trying to rehab myself back to fitness and Chris being the dutiful house husband. As much as my ankle is still pretty painful, in a strange way it’s almost harder for Chris. He has a long training block in front of him, about 8-10 weeks in total, and the challenge for him is to not get mentally drained. He needs to keep his motivation up so I’m always doing my bit from the bench to push him. It’s not like he could just head off and compete with another partner to keep him match sharp. The new structure means only ranked pairs can enter certain events so this was never going to be an option.
Instead, we’re trying to make the most of this impromptu downtime. When you’re on the road, I can’t tell you how much we long for home comforts and to do simple things like go to the supermarket or go to the cinema. But this isn’t downtime we’ve chosen and we’re therefore struggling to enjoy it as much as we might. We should have just started a trip to Indonesia and India but clearly this isn’t happening for obvious reasons. Everybody keeps telling me to enjoy being at home but I’ve already got that itchy feeling that I should be back on the road, back on the match court in some far-flung place. That’s the stark reality of being an injured athlete. It’s an overriding feeling of total frustration coupled with boredom and jealousy that others are getting on with their training.
As far as rehab goes, it’s just a case of taking it a day at a time. I’ve never had an injury quite like this before and despite the grimness of it all, I know I’m exactly where I need to be – surrounded by a brilliant team who are helping me through this process. It’s something I’m feeling very positive about. I’m throwing myself in to it and I really enjoy seeing little bits of progress on an almost daily basis. We’re so lucky to work with some totally awesome people who are helping to package up the old me. They are absolute geniuses and I’ve loved working with all the team who’ve helped me to get to this point. They’re helping me to maintain my strength where I can, practice tonnes of core work and do lots of stability work. Wobble boards have become my new best friend. I know there’ll be times when it feels like the road has fallen away completely but I feel very ready to deal with the situation we’ve found ourselves in. Our team are always helping to keep me optimistic and excited about what’s to come, and I know I’ve got the resilience, skills and sense of humour to deal with it all.
Speaking about what’s coming up, we aren’t putting any timelines on our return from this. Yes, we have an idea of when we’d like to return but we’re keeping that quiet for now. All I know for sure is that this ankle injury won’t affect our summer. It’s a bit of an unknown year with a new calendar, new sponsorship deals, more prize money and more tournaments. There’s lots of change. The All England in March is a big aim for us, as are the Commonwealth Games in April, the European Championships plus of course the World Championships.
One thing’s for sure – it’s been an epic few months. We’ve had some unbelievably high moments and some fairly life affirming times. Things rarely pan out the way you expect and we’re sure 2018 will be no different. Bring it on!