Monday, June 25, 2012

Erica McLain's Olympics Rest on Ankle

Today at 7PM, in Eugene, OR, is the day Erica McLain has been waiting for for almost 15 months. After months of rehabilitation, hard work, and tears, it may not be enough for her Olympic dreams in the triple jump to come true.
"I've told my parents to be ready, that on June 25 at 7PM, that I'm either going to be overjoyed and crying, or a complete mess," McLain said.
McLain severely damaged her ankle on March 7, 2011 when she was practicing at her alma mater, Stanford, making the run towards the triple jump pit and her foot hit the edge of the sand pit and her ankle rolled 180 degrees. When her coach Edrick Floreal reached her in the pit, the sole of her foot was facing upward.
"There are moments when I ask why this happened to me. A lot. But I brush them off really quickly. I just have to accept that it happened and I have to commit to it all the way. 'Woe is me' just slows you down. It's not helpful," McLain said.
It was a horrifying injury. The bones of her tibia and fibula were protruding through her skin, sand from the pit in the open wounds. It took emergency personnel 40 minutes to get her out of the sand pit, and they had to phone Stanford Hospital to ask permission to give her morphine. McLain would spend 5 days in the hospital and have two surgeries to clean and repair the wound. One doctor told her she would never compete again, saying she'd be "lucky to be a good couch potato." Another doctor left the door open for competition.
McLain has set her sights on the Olympics.
Since March 2011, McLain has focused exclusively on healing, rehabbing, training, all while suffering through constant pain. She continues to rehab 3 to 5 times a week, taking painkillers so she can train. A recent ultrasound found that there is still sand around the area that was injured.
"It's irritating the muscle tissue and there's nothing I can do about that," McLain said. Add to that a hamstring injury in the past few weeks. "I'm not as far along as I thought I would be. I tried to compete two weeks ago and I was in a lot of pain. I couldn't sleep the night after because every time I moved my foot, pain would shoot through the ankle. The ankle has a mind of its own. Sometime's it's just cranky. I tell people that it throws temper tantrums."
McLain's father, Kevin, said he would never tell his daughter not to try for a comeback and says phone conversations are telling about how she's struggling.
"She'll be talking about what's going on, all the things she's doing, and she'll say that it hurts to walk, let alone jump, and it's very matter of fact. It's a glimpse for me how hard this is, how hard she's working. You don't want to see your children in pain or stress. You want to take it away and make it better. She's bearing this a lot better than I think I could," Kevin McLain said.
Her practices and meet performances have been a roller coaster. Some are good, even great, some are just awful. McLain was the best triple jumper in the country before her injury, jumping 47 feet, 1/4 inch. She has not made it yet for an automatic qualification for the Olympics or a provisional qualification. What works in her benefit is that her competitors have not come up to the standards she's set.
Part of McLain's recovery has been to forget the memory of what happened and extend herself physically and mentally. "I have to stay strong and understand that it will probably come down to the day at the trials," McLain said.
If she doesn't make the Olympic team, she will train for the 2013 world championship in Moscow. After that she'll head to business school. "I'm trying to be real. If I don't make the team, there are going to be reasons. But it's not going to be because I didn't give my all," McLain commented.
If you are an athlete who has a sports injury, call our Newington, Kensington, or Middletown office to make an appointment.
Craig M. Kaufman, DPM
Connecticut Foot Care Centers
Sports Podiatrist in CT
Podiatrist in Newington, Kensington, and Middletown, CT
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