When a young athlete dreams of Olympic glory, they might not consider the unlikely obstacles that could hobble them – like an ankle injury, a broken leg, or something called plantar fasciitis. And they might not dream of some of the solutions: pins for the broken leg, slippers for the plantar fasciitis. Some athletes have gone to great lengths – and personal sacrifice – to overcome injuries. Other have been forced to give up their Olympic dreams for good.
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Paula Findlay - Triathalon. A small tear in the elastic tissue on her hip last year Paula Findlay with two options: she could undergo surgery, or she could attempt to manage the pain with a combination of cortisone, medication, icing, and treatment, she wrote on her blog. With the London Games fast approaching, Findlay chose what she called “the ‘management’ road” for the pain and expects to be ready to race.
Andres Kudacki/AP Photo
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Teresa Gabriele - Basketball. At 32 years old, Teresa Gabriele will be the oldest member of Canada’s women’s basketball team, and its only member to have competed in the 2000 Games in Sydney, Australia. Despite a nagging foot injury and constant knee pain [can’t find an explicit explanation, but I believe the knee pain is from a lifetime of basketball] she could be one of the team’s most dominant players.
DARRYL DYCK/The Globe and Mail
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Tabia Charles - Long jump, triple jump. After her tenth-place finish at the Beijing Olympics, Tabia Charles injured her right ankle while training at York University in January 2011. She remained optimistic, but realized by March 2012 that she would never fully recover. The long-jumper, who was known for sporting fishnet stockings when competing, is now focusing on her education.
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Jason Burnett - Trampoline. As a child, Jason Burnett’s reward for completing gymnastics classes was fifteen minutes on the trampoline. Since then, Burnett has won a silver medal at the Beijing Games and nabbed the world record for the most difficult trampoline routine. Burnett also battled a broken leg in 2010 and plantar fasciitis on the bottom of his left foot. Plates and screws helped the broken leg; he fights the plantar fasciitis by training in slippers. But he will be in London.
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Michael Mason - High jump. An ankle injury – a bone chip lodged in his ankle joint – hobbled Mason at his first Olympics in 2008 and continued to plague him into 2011. Thanks in part to a recent coaching change and an emphasis on conditioning the former world junior champion is poised to compete in London this summer.
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Peng Peng Lee - Gymnastics. The young Toronto gymnast had her sights set on the London Games, before tearing her ACL while training in Regina earlier this year. She will accompany the team to London and serve as its honorary captain.
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Brittany Rogers - Gymnastics. The Coquitlam gymnast could hardly walk after fracturing her medial malleolus bone while performing a balance beam dismount in 2010. Surgery – and a pin in her ankle – eventually fixed that problem, freeing up Rogers to focus on the games.
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Michelle Stilwell - Wheelchair racing. A quadriplegic since 17, Michelle Stilwell won gold in wheelchair basketball at the 2000 Paralympic Games. And when Stilwell’s injury eventually ended her basketball career, she became a dominant wheelchair racer. She will compete in the 2012 Paralympic Games in London.
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Dylan Armstrong - Shot put. Landing one centimetre short of the podium at the Beijing Olympics and winning Pan Am gold last year, Dylan Armstrong should be a medal contender at this summer’s Games. An arm injury dogged Armstrong in March, but he’s now training for London, a regimen that reportedly involves consuming up to 9,000 calories a day.
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Perdita Felicien - Track and field. In 2004, Olympic gold medal favourite Perdita Felicien tripped on the first barrier in the 100-metre hurdle final. In 2008, broken bone in her left foot kept her from competing in Beijing. With a London berth her last chance for Olympic gold, Felicien was disqualified for a false start at an Olympic trials event this year. She actually raced under protest after being disqualified and finished third, which would have qualified her.