Sport

Olympic comeback

SASHA COSTANZO

A Perth athlete who had an injury-plagued buildup to a disappointing performance at the London Olympics is rebuilding for the Rio Olympics in 2016.

In 2011, javelin thrower Kim Mickle (pictured) was competing at the World Championships in Korea, where she only needed to place in the top eight to automatically qualify for the Olympics.

It was in the qualifying round where Mickle’s troubled first started.

Kim discussing with her coach

“I was in incredible shape, so when I threw in the qualifier and jammed my back up, I knew it was an issue,” she says.

Straight away Mickle knew she was in bad shape, unable to bend down or tie her shoelaces.

Lucky for her, her throw still managed to qualify her for the finals the following day.

The next day Mickle competed even though she was still in terrible condition.

“When I threw straight away I broke my ribs as my technique was terrible as I could not move,” she says.

Mickle says that even though her throw was awful she still somehow managed to throw well enough to qualify for the Olympics.

“I came sixth in the world even with my broke rib,” she says.

Mickle had just one year to recover before the biggest competition of her life.

She says the first few months were her toughest as she was physically unable to do anything until her rib healed.

As the months went on Mickle slowly started back into her training routine with light walking, and slow rehabilitation.

The following months she was lifting weights and eventually she was back to throwing.

West Australian Institute of Sport athletics coach Grant Ward says the biggest thing he learned from Mickle’s injuries was that he had to closely monitor her training sessions.

“We had to look at what she was doing and how much she was doing,” he says.

After a five-month setback, during a training session Mickle threw harder than usual, and put her back out.

“We sort of rushed it a little bit because obviously we had London coming up and we needed to throw but my body wouldn’t let me,” she says.

Mickle says that being an Olympian in London was the best and worst thing she has ever done.

“The best being that I made my dream come true becoming an Olympian,” she says.

“The worst was my throw; that year I had never thrown less than 61 metres and 59.8 made it to the qualifying.

“I threw 59 metres.”

Mickle says it was “horrible” not qualifying for the finals.

“I was strong and everything else was going well,” she says.

“I just didn’t have the confidence.”

Mr Ward says that after the games sports psychology was introduced to Mickle’s program.

West Australian Institute of Sport psychologist Shayne Hank says many athletes tend to focus on just their tactical and physical components and ignore the mental.

“I haven’t worked with Kim but I know that she sees sports psychology as very valuable,” Mr Hank says.

Mickle says that adding techniques such as visualisation to her program has helped.

She says she is a changed person because of London.

“It’s what you do afterwards that makes you who you are,” she says.

Mr Ward says that this year he and Mickel will focus on consistency in the lead up to the Commonwealth Games which kick off in July.

“… if we can be consistent across the board and stay injury free, that’s going to be the key,” he says.

Mickle says she is going to stick to her 14 training sessions a week all the way up to Rio.

“If I can do it without any major injuries that’s when things are going to be huge,” she says.

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