Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Edwards makes tentative return to training (written for Athletics Weekly 09/07).

World junior cross-country and 5,000m track representative, Sian Edwards is cautiously returning to light training, following a four-month-long spell on the sidelines, Writes Nicola Bamford.

The 18 year-old Kettering Town Harrier suffered a stress-fracture of the right foot shortly after the World Cross-Country Championships in Mombasa, Kenya last March and has subsequently, had to endure a lengthy rest period. To further exasperate matters, the injury remained undiagnosed until May, leaving Edwards on crutches for six agonising weeks. An extensive rehabilitation programme of aqua jogging and cycling thus commenced, in an attempt to obtain a swift recovery for the 2006 World Junior Cross-Country 10th-placer.

The Neville Marshall-coached runner recalled her recent testing times; “It was really frustrating not being able to run, as this year is my last junior year, so I hope things get better for the cross-country season.”

Fortunately for the World-Class Potential Programme member, frequent physiotherapy sessions with UKA physiotherapists, Mark Buckingham and Alison Rose, in Northampton and Loughborough respectively, have gradually helped Edwards to walk pain-free again; although, as Marshall stressed, “The physio’s wouldn’t let her do any weight training or go on the cross-trainer, to take the pressure off the foot, so she’s lost a lot of speed and strength.” On her steady recovery process, the former English U20 5,000m champion explained, “Training in the pool wasn’t too bad, as I had company from other injured runners. I’ve been following a plan from Alison – I’m not sure how long it’ll take to get back running properly, but I hope to be doing 20minutes jogging every other day next week.” Edwards was understandably full of praise for the help she has received; “Mark and Alison, as well as my doctor, Nick Pierce were really helpful in getting me back to training and Neville’s kept me motivated and involved, as I’ve been keeping in touch with my training group by watching them train.”

The once-tipped future Olympic star has even received an occasional email from World marathon record-holder, Paula Radcliffe, who, like the entire athletics community, is keen to see Edwards make a speedy recovery. Aware of how her rivals are progressing, Radcliffe’s ‘Athlete of the Month’ for March 2005, says without a hint of jealousy, “I’m really pleased the girls are doing well, it’s great to see.”

Marshall too, appears to have faith in his protégé; “I can’t put a timescale on how long it’ll take her to get back but Sian’s a very tough lady – very determined and intelligent. She’s managed to stay fairly cheerful and, although obviously very disappointed, at least she was able to focus on her studies.” The enforced break from training may in fact turn out to be a blessing in disguise for the 2006 European junior cross-country 6th-placer, as she was able to fully focus on her A-Level exams. Edwards is hoping to attend Loughborough University to study psychology and link-up with distance coach John Nuttall and rival, Emily Pidgeon in the autumn.

Refusing to look on the bleak side, Edwards and her team remain adamant that they have encouragement to look to the future. The 2006 British Athletics Writers Junior Female Athlete of the Year is no longer experiencing pain whilst walking and jogging and appears refreshingly upbeat. Focusing on making a competitive return in time for the forthcoming cross-country season and not taking her health for granted, a realistic and cautious Edwards insists “I’ll have to see how things are going; how quickly I can get back to full fitness. I hope to do the Euro cross-country Trials in November and I’m fairly confident of getting back to my best.” Reluctant to predict an instant return to form, the 2006 Daily Telegraph and Norwich Union School Sport Matters Awards Female Pupil of the Year, believes “The Euro Cross is ideally the target, but at the moment, it’s just nice to get back to training.”After overcoming such adversity, the runner who was unbeaten on home soil in the 2006 winter season will surely be content and relieved to first make the start-line this autumn, as she begins her patient journey back to the sport which has brought her so much success.

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