WRITTEN FOR SKYSPORTS
Having been off the athletics radar for the past five years, British sprinter Katherine Endacott is back with a bounce in her step after taking two championship medals in a glorious comeback season, writes Nicola Bamford.
The 30-year-old from Plymouth has endured four career-saving knee operations since 2006 and battled diabetes since aged fourteen, which has played havoc with maintaining an athletic weight.
Combined with these frustrating setbacks, the Devon athlete’s progress stalled with the birth of her daughter Mia in 2007 and rather than enjoying the lifestyle of a full-time athlete, Endacott is not on any funding or sponsorship, resulting in her working part-time as a teaching assistant.
Indeed, the past few years have been tough – she witnessed her father Stephen, who is also her coach, suffer a heart-attack at a track meeting and supported her mother successfully beat Breast cancer – but Endacott is one tough cookie herself.
Also guided by 1992 Olympic 100m champion Linford Christie for monthly sessions in London, Endacott has battled against the odds to transform herself into the championship medallist and London 2012 Olympic prospect she is today.
“After five years out after having my daughter and four knee operations, this year has been amazing,” Endacott explained.
“I tore the cartilage in my knee in 2003 and it got worse again in 2006 and 2007 so
I eventually had surgery to remove it and I have struggled with my weight all my life but I’ve now got it (the diabetes) under control.
(Funding) would have made life easier but I’ll hopefully prove them wrong next year. When someone says I can’t do something, I try so hard to prove them wrong and bounce back stronger with a fighting instinct.”
Endacott certainly is a fighter – and in more ways than one, for she boxes twice a week for conditioning purposes and even aspires to become a competitive boxer after life on the track.
Having only finished fifth in the UK Championship over 100m back in July, Endacott was fortunate to be selected for the event in last month’s Commonwealth Games but needed all her hunger and drive to mentally survive the battle which lay ahead in India.
Speeding to a lifetime best of 11.44, Endacott originally finished fourth but was surprisingly upgraded to the silver medal position over the following days due to two disqualifications.
“I won’t forget Delhi in a hurry,” Endacott revealed.
“It was a bonus just to get there and I tried not to get caught up in all the drama.
I was over the moon with fourth but after the petitions, I was promoted to bronze then when having breakfast the next day, someone said I’d got the silver but I only found out officially after the relay – people at home knew before me!”
Leading the English squad off to a great start on the first leg of the 4x100m final, Endacott received her second medal in Delhi:
“Relay gold was another bonus. All in all, it was a good season for a comeback year.
2010 was my time and in the last few years, I was thinking whether it was time to stop. I went from strength to strength and really enjoyed it, I was quite pleased and I hope next year will be even better.”
The former 60m indoor specialist, whose 7.34 ranked her fifth in Britain this year, will be hoping for a much brighter future now she has turned a corner.
During her career, Endacott has only placed seventh in the 2003 World Student Games, failed to progress beyond the heats of the 2005 European indoor 60m and World outdoor relay and finished second and third in the 2005 and 2010 UK 60m indoor championships.
Occasionally even competing in the long-jump, high-jump, shot put and discus to support her local club, Endacott’s personal 100m best still only ranks her as seventh in the 2010 British rankings but the progress after years of adversity is promising.
“I’ve got big expectations for next year and I’ve stepped up my game going into winter training with dad and Linford,” Endacott explains.
“I hope to get into 11.1/2 shape, I don’t just want to be a one-off. I was so emotional in Delhi after all my troubles and what I’ve been through – I need to experience that again.
I’ll do the indoor season from January. Paris (the European indoors in March) is definitely an aim and I would like to step up again in the final there – I saviour being an unknown quantity.”
Less of an unknown is Christie, who is currently enjoying a popular spell in the Australian jungle on televisions’ “I’m a Celebrity, Get me Out of Here!” reality programme but rather than feeling lost without her mentor for a month, Endacott is in confident mood:
“Linford’s only away for four weeks – he’s doing great and coming across really well. He was my childhood hero and I bit his hand off when he offered to coach me.”
Should Endacott’s form continue to rise then she too could become more well-known to the public and she refuses to rest on her laurels when it comes to gaining more championship selection:
“Paris and Daegu (for the World championships next summer) are my aims but I want to take each year as it comes and if I continue improving like I am, then 2012 will be within my grasp.
2012 would be amazing but I don’t want to set long-term goals as I thought my career was over five years ago.”
How wrong she was.