By Paul Topliff ►
For a good while, it's become clear that Sandy has been dogged by a recurring injury to her right Achilles Tendon (Achilles Paratenonitis). It’s inflammation of the sheath that surrounds the tendon, which joins the foot to the calf, and is caused by over exertion or use of the movement during training or running. This type of injury is found most commonly in long distance runners. This latest injury flared up just after Christmas Day. Her previous injury prior to this was a separate injury during the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in Queensland, Australia, but unlike that injury, in which she blasted her way through the rounds to take the gold medal, this injury could see the previous number two ranked boxer in the world pull out of a tournament.
It's been bitter sweet for the Derby pugilist to say the least. She more than deserved that gold as we all witnessed. She was nonpareil and rightly received plaudits globally for her achievement. Come the World Championships back in November though, she was the first to explain magnanimously that she was flat footed. She is an absolute beast when she's at her best, who has been known to toy with opponents at times, which made it even harder to explain why the decision went against her. I felt the Judges were awful overall during that World Championship tournament which didn't help, and it's not just me that said that: the whole world had revered commentators befuddled by many results, including Sandy's bout.
So what of the next tournament? What's going down with Camp SR at Team GB right now and when will our Welterweight Champion be re-entering the ring again? It’s not cut and dried yet, but it’s looking like it may well be the ‘Chemistry Colonia World Cup of Olympic Boxing’ tournament held in Cologne, Germany between the 9th and 14th of April this year. It’s an elite tournament that has previous and current boxing champions from around the world competing for the coveted title. Should Sandy fight for that title, she will be doing so knowing that she has less than 7 weeks preparation before it begins. I say 7 weeks, but in reality it would only be 4 at best as she has only had the ‘Air-Boot’ she was wearing removed today, and has to spend the next fortnight quarantined to boxing rehab. In order to strengthen her calf muscles, having worn the boot for so long. Sure she’s super fit in terms of her cardio vascular and upper body strength, but as we all know, she is not match fit. Match fitness which is spoken about in football so much is so important. You can be as fit as you want, but that never equates to match fitness. The equivalent in boxing terms of course is sparring in preparation for upcoming tournaments, and Sandy has been sidelined into doing only a few sessions in Colorado Springs, USA about a month ago. Since then she has literally been isolated and heavily restricted in what she can do with her training programme. Swimming, circuit work and general training has been very much it.
In an interview Sandy told me that she’s nevertheless as determined as ever, and 100% upbeat, as she can see true light at the end of the tunnel at last. It’s been necessary to go through the intense rehabilitation process with various treatments and scans, and credit must be given here to the physio’s and backroom team for their superb skills in healing Sandy’s injury. It’s a delicate and slow process, that will prove to be to her benefit over the course of the next few months. The next tournament, hopefully in April, will prove invaluable in preparation for the upcoming World Championships towards the end of this year. To my mind it’s not necessarily about walking away with gold in the Chemistry Colonia World Cup, so much as how the right foot stands up to it. To get as far as the Semi-Final would be an absolute miracle at this stage, but if anyone can do it Sandy can. It’s not about whether she is tough enough to win in April. On her game she is tough enough not only to win it, but also get the boxing world’s tongues wagging, but just to fight is in itself a wonderful achievement. The crucial test here is steer clear of any further injury. You have to remember that when there are major interruptions in an athlete’s training programme, a badly timed comeback can quickly lead to sustaining further injury in different parts of the body, not just initial injury. I have total faith in Team GB and Team England though. They know exactly what they are doing and Sandy is a very smart person trust me: sharp as a pin. She’ll know when it’s right to pull out and when she’s good to go. Sandy says that she is very grateful that it’s happened early in the year, as she has time to get back to peak fitness. She also describes it as a minor setback which is testament to her mentality.
Sandy Ryan – Derby’s finest