Donegal marathon runner Caitriona Jennings this week has spoken for the first time about her Olympic experience and the devastating injury that turned an Olympic dream into a nightmare.
She also tells that there was never a question of her withdrawing from the race beforehand or during the race after being given the all clear to run by her medical team.
“I would not have run if I had thought myself I was not fit to go and had not been given the all clear by the medical team. Most definitely not. I would never deprive anybody else the opportunity to compete in the Olympics,” she told the Democrat.
She also insisted, looking back on the experience, the one positive to come out of it was that she finished the race, albeit in 107th place out of 118 starters.
“It was devastating. Here I was in the best shape of my life but unfortunately because of what happened I’m the only one that knows that, it was really hard to take on board, but I’m slowly coming around,” said Caitriona.
“Looking back on it now the one thing I’m really glad of is that I finished the race. If it was any other race, I would have definitely pulled out. But because it was the Olympics, I was determined to finish and thankfully I did.”
Caitriona first picked up a foot injury three weeks out from the games. This was an injury she initially thought was no more than a niggle to the sole of the foot (Plantar Fasciitis) that later turned out to be a little more serious than first thought. But she was assured by her medical team that she would be fine by the time the marathon came around. She was given the all clear by both her own personal physio before she left for London and was again given the thumbs up from the Team Ireland physio in London.
But as it transpired she suffered another injury - a stress fracture in the foot - and it was this more than the initial injury that caused her the most grief in the course of the race.
Outlining the details of the initial injury and the lead up to the marathon, Caitriona explained: “I felt a niggle in the foot about three weeks before the game, but as far as I was concerned it was just a niggle and thought nothing off it and kept training away.
“It was only in the second week that I realised that it was a little more serious and I received treatment for the last two weeks. But I was told by my physio that I would be fine.
“My own personal physio told me before I left for London that I would be fine, and again in London the Team Ireland physio told me I would be fit to run.”
However, on race day it turned out differently and after 15k Caitriona was forced to remove a strapping from the foot. And it was agony in the closing 27k as Caitriona, all alone and well behind the rest of the field, ran to the finish.
It was discovered afterwards because she had been putting extra pressure on another part of the foot in an attempt to compensate for the initial injury she did more damage and suffered a stress fracture of the foot.
Caitriona is currently on crutches and recuperating. She is contemplating her future and returning to training and looking forward to getting back out running again.