Friday, 13 November 2009

Pushed to the limit

Burn out is one of those phrases in sport that divides opinion. Many people believe that sportsmen and women are very well paid for what they do and that tiredness shouldn’t be an issue. However there is a growing minority of people who are becoming more sympathetic to the stresses and strains placed on an athlete’s body in modern day sport.
Andrew Flintoff is one such example of a sportsman who has seen his career cut short and curtailed by injury. Though he still plans to make a comeback in the one day form of the game there are many who feel that he may never play at the top level of sport again.
However one interesting example that I came across while looking more into this was that of Australian Moto GP rider Casey Stoner. In the middle of the 2009 season whilst chasing Valentino Rossi for another title Stoner announced that he was set to take a mid season break in order to recover from a mystery illness.
There was much speculation about what was afflicting Stoner but the general consensus was that he was suffering from burnout. He is renowned in the Moto GP world for being one of the fittest competitors on the track and it was believed that he had simply overdone it in his quest to be as physically fit as possible.
He had complained of feeling nauseous and exhausted during races and was eventually diagnosed with mild anaemia and gastritis.
Despite finally finding out what had been making him so unwell the question still remained as to what could cause a 24 year old to endure such problems and the answer comes again back to overtraining. The reason for this was pressure to succeed. In a sport that has been dominated by the quite brilliant Valentino Rossi for years, it is crying out for someone to come and mount a serious long term challenge at the top of the sport and for many that man is Casey Stoner. But it seemed that he has overdone it in his quest for success, and he won’t be the last sportsman to do so.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Battling back

“Keeping the faith. That’s what counts. Holding true to what matters is the key to a decent and meaningful life. And we can all keep the faith- as long as things go our way. It’s when things go against us that trouble is doubled. That’s because we not only suffer from bad times, we also question the faith that sustains us. And no matter what form it takes, faith matters.”
These were the words of Simon Barnes writing in The Times on Friday as Jonny Wilkinson was on the verge of making his long awaited comeback in an England shirt. The words undoubtedly apply to Wilkinson who has shown amazing courage and resilience as he has fought back from injury after injury. However if there is one sportsman who has to show strength in the face of continued adversity it is surely England cricketer Simon Jones.
Jones, who last played a Test match for England during the glorious Ashes summer in 2005 missed the whole of the 2009 season with an injury but is finally on the verge of making a comeback after signing a three year deal with Hampshire.
In an interview with Sky Sports Jones said that he just wants to get back playing but that he also still harbours hopes of a return to the England set up.
“I’d be lying if I said I don’t want to play for England again but the main thing for me is to play. First and foremost I’ve got to concentrate on my stuff with Hampshire and get back playing. This year was a bit of a nightmare.”
Jones is one of those players who you can’t help but think what might have been. He was, at his peak, a frightening bowler. He bowled with fearsome pace and aggression and had the uncanny ability to make the ball swing both ways. In 2005 Australia couldn’t handle him and had he stayed fit he would have been approaching 300 Test match wickets rather than being stuck on 59. But despite injury after injury he continues to fight back. He continues to keep the faith, both in himself and his own ability.
Barnes continues: “In our own lives, we have all known times that test us, that tempt us to give up, to blame others, to abandon the things that matter. Some people go through extreme and terrible experiences, others have better luck. But we all know about hard times.”
Simon Jones certainly does. But he keeps on bouncing back and one day I fervently hope that he will be back in an England shirt terrorising the best batsmen in the world.