20 June 2013Goldie Sayers hopeful elbow surgery will put her career back on track
GOLDIE Sayers has daylight in sight after an injury and surgery nightmare.
The 30-year-old Cambridge javelin thrower suffered agony at last summer’s Olympics as she tried to battle through a partially torn elbow ligament which she sustained when throwing a British record 66.17m three weeks before the Games.
But by competing in London, it made things worse as the ligament ruptured in the first round and required surgery.
And things took a turn for the worse when they should have been getting better.
“I had an operation straight after the Olympics and the surgeon was very confident with what he was doing and he repaired the ligament,” said Sayers.
“I was rehabbing but it never felt right. It was constantly flaring up, so I knew something was wrong.
“I had another scan in February and it transpired that one of the screws had come out by half a centimetre, and that’s quite a lot in an elbow.
“My line is that you can’t out-rehab an unsuccessful surgery.”
So Sayers took it upon herself to find the best elbow surgeon in the world, and her research led her to America.
“Unfortunately in the UK they are not as experienced with elbows,” she said. “All the cricketers don’t get it (elbow surgery) done in the UK, they go to America.
“All the professional sports in America are throwing-based.”
The route took her to have an operation called Tommy John Surgery – notably associated with baseball players – in West Florida by Dr James Andrews, whose patients include a host of top US sports stars.
“Had I had it done first of all I would have been fine,” said Sayers. “All the baseball pitchers get done by him. He has a very high success rate with this surgery.
“I can tell the operation has gone well and am very positive about getting back.”
As part of her rehab in America, Sayers took the opportunity to visit Dan Pfaff, her coach at Lea Valley who returned to Phoenix after the Olympics, and some of her old training partners.
On her return to Britain she has been focussed on the long road to full fitness, with an aim of throwing again towards the end of the year to be competing again next summer.
And it is the high of that last throw when fully fit – the British record at Crystal Palace – that has helped Sayers through the dark days.
“Had I not been throwing so well I would find it a lot harder to keep motivated,” she said. “It’s been almost like having a sabbatical in many ways.
“You get so bogged down in everything and in an individual sport it can be all-consuming as there’s always something you can improve on. It’s nice to be a bit more relaxed about it all.
“Having a competitive year out, it does take the pressure off and gives you perspective. It’s made me motivated and helped sustain my motivation.”