28th September 2017
OFILI ON THE COMEBACK TRAIL
The last 12 months have presented hurdler, Cindy Ofili, with a number of challenges, but she remains optimistic about the future.
Just over a year ago she came of age at the Rio Olympics when she finished fourth in the final of the women’s 100m hurdles with 12.63, the second quickest posting of her career, with the time just two hundredths of a second shy of Olympic bronze.
“Rio was a bittersweet moment”, reflects Ofili.
“It was hard to just miss a medal but at the same time it showed me what I am capable of and showed I had the potential to compete against the best in the world. There is no doubt in my mind that I am at the point where I am capable of competing at the highest level.”
After Rio the sprint hurdles specialist made a swift return to school to complete her degree in Education at the University of Michigan – “I loved school and I love learning, but I am super happy to be finished” she remarks – though the added time available for training and recovery could not prepare the 23-year-old for a substantial dose of bad luck which came her way.
After taking the decision to cut short her 2017 indoor season, missing the European Indoor Championships in Belgrade, Ofili competed six times over the course of April and May before disaster struck.
Taking up the story, she explains: “I had an Achilles rupture; I was having a little tightness prior to the race in Boston on 4 June. I thought it was tendonitis because it came out of nowhere and I thought I could just run through it. I ran and there was a pop in the middle of my race and I had to stop – I didn’t think it was anything big. I went to the doctor the next day and I was told it had torn and I had to have surgery.”
“It was very frustrating at first. I was already dealing with the pressure of the transition from college to pro athlete. Everything seemed a little difficult and then on top of that two injuries in the season was not a pleasing place to be – I was very upset; not in a good place.”
After 2 months of pure rest before then going through the process of learning to walk again – taking baby steps – to get back to full health, she has been combining rehab with a lot of core work to “ensure that I am not completely out of shape when I come back”.
“It’s a long process but I am definitely healing a lot quicker than anticipated; I have a physical therapist I see three times a week and I have a strength and conditioning coach whom I typically see twice a week. So five days a week I am doing different things and going to different people to get help, and it is and it has been extremely helpful.”
Focused on getting back to what she loves, though stopping short of identifying a specific target time to literally be back on track, Britain’s third quickest sprint hurdler of all-time signs off saying: “It is one of those injuries that takes time: there are athletes who have competed again 4-6 months afterwards – that is amazing – other athletes, it has taken them a full year to get back to full strength.
“I definitely think I am on a fast track from what my physical therapist says and from what I see of my own progress. There is no guarantee as to when I will have my first race back.
“I know I am going to be a new and improved athlete because of all the things I am working on and improving. I am looking at it in a positive way and I know that one day I will be back to where I want to be”.
You can follow Cindy’s journey on Twitter via @CindyOfili.