IT’S hard to imagine just what it’s like to be a professional athlete.
Some live it, most dream about it.
And certainly those dreams are all about gold medals, premiership wins, Superbowl rings and giving the coach that time-honoured tradition of a gatorade shower. It’s not always that easy though.
Last Tuesday we got a little snippet as to just how hard it is to compete at the top when former Hockeyroo Jade Warrender walked away from the game of hockey, a sport she’s loved and lived for nearly her entire life.
Warrender has struggled with injury in the last 12 months.
On the eve of the London Olympic Games, the then 19-year-old went down with her second ruptured anterior cruciate (ACL) ligament suffered during a routine training exercise in May.
Having always been open about her desire to compete at an Olympic Games, the heartbreak associated with having her dream snatched away like that would have been enough to see most people abandon the sport then.
The agony of it all near unbearable.
But Warrender and determination go hand in hand.
On the brink, Warrender fought back to end her rehabilitation in 11 months and again play in Australian colours in April, successfully competing in a trial match.
But the hockey gods can be cruel, and on the eve of her first major tournament since recovering from a second full knee reconstruction, Warrender suffered a hamstring tear that ruled her out of the Investec World League, again in London.
The 21-year-old made it back to compete with the Jillaroos, Australia’s under 21s hockey team, at the Junior World Cup in Germany in July this year.
But she never made it back to the Hockeyroos’ fold.
Citing a lack of passion for the game when making her decision to walk away from hockey last week, Warrender’s path from prodigiously talented Orange junior to one of the Hockeyroos’ best clearly hasn’t been an easy one, not of late anyway.
Hockey has been Warrender’s life.
And to have the game be so cruel to her, few could blame the Ex-Services junior for wanting a change. For wanting to leave behind the bitter disappointment.
She’s not completely shut the door on a return - at 21 time is clearly on her side - but the demands of being a professional athlete in the tough times, injury after injury, are infinitely tougher than most recognise.
It’s often said tough times don’t last, tough people do. But surely even the tough deserve a break.