When Mariah Williams attended the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra last December to join a rehab program for her ongoing adductor injury, little did she expect to be in surgery and have her 2018 home Commonwealth Games dreams shattered two months later.
Prior to surgery the Hockeyroo said she most certainly had the Gold Coast Games set in her eyes, especially after she was named in the National Women’s squad for 2018 in early December.
Had Williams been given the opportunity, it would have been her first Commonwealth Games.
She’s now unsure if a World Cup selection might be on the line as well with it taking place in July.
The former Parkes junior had been battling the injury for more than seven months.
“I couldn’t get it right in Perth,” she said.
“I went home for a couple of weeks before Christmas and started running again and after my second run the next morning, I woke up and realised my adductor had gone again for the fifth time in seven months.”
Williams returned to Canberra on January 2, seeing the doctor and physiotherapist for reassessment.
“I spent four weeks getting prolotherapy injections into my adductor and kept doing my rehab exercises,” the 22-year-old said.
“But unfortunately the adductor didn’t recover the way we wanted it to, so we decided that surgery was our only option.
“Once surgery was confirmed, I knew I was ruled out of the Commonwealth Games.
“It’s not the easiest thing to hear after eight long months of being out that you were still going to be out for another six months.
“I guess also knowing that it was a home Commonwealth Games where all my family and friends were coming to support me made it a lot harder. And on top of that I was the ambassador for hockey as well.
“So yes it was a challenging time for me, but as an elite athlete injuries happen and you just have to pick yourself back up and work hard to get back to where you were or you’ll fall behind and it will be much harder then.”
Williams hasn’t had much luck when it’s come to the Commonwealth Games, with knee surgery ruling her ineligible for the 2014 titles.
“But I most certainly will be watching every game supporting [the girls] through the TV,” she said.
Williams is currently involved in a unique program called ARC (Athlete Rehabilitation Centre), which focuses on athletes who have had long term injuries that aren’t recovering as well as expected.
She’s working with a team involving a sports doctor, physiotherapist, psychologist, nutritionist and a strength and conditioning coach who will help her take the steps needed to be injury-free.
“I’m currently six weeks post-surgery and I’m in the gym twice a day doing a strength program in the morning and a conditioning program in the afternoon,” Williams said.
“On top of that I do my rehab exercises which take up to 90 minutes.
“Hopefully after strengthening my lower body back up to a reasonable level I can start to jog, this should be around 11-12 weeks post-surgery.
“No hockey is involved in my training until about 14-16 weeks post-surgery.”
The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games is her long term goal.
And in the meantime she’s focusing on increasing her physical and mental strengths, saying that injuries take a large toll on both the body and mind.
“We also have the World Cup at the end of July this year,” Williams said.
“I’m going to put my best foot forward to be selected for that.
“Obviously it’s going to be a tough goal as I’ll only be on the pitch for three or four weeks before the tournament.
“But my main focus right now is getting my body right.”