Like many top athletes, 2009 wakeboarding world champion Dallas Friday is no stranger to injury – but nothing can suppress her drive to get back on the water.
[Last year, Friday tore her anterior cruciate ligament, posterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament] I knew I was seriously hurt because I’ve seen lots of injuries in my time. Just the pain: it was like a chain reaction of explosions in my right knee, just one after the other. I definitely knew it was not going to be just a few days off the water. I have some gnarly scars up to 10cm long: two straight incisions on the front, and two on the sides of my knee, too.
[After leg surgery to fix a nine-part fracture, Friday was induced into a coma.] I saw dolphins and circus animals – I was on so much morphine. I remember them pulling out my chest tube when my lungs collapsed. They told me to hold my breath because the tube was close to my heart. But they were like, “Hmm, that’s not going to work. Let’s try again.” So they went for it. I don’t remember the pain, but I do remember the terror of the situation.
I got the OK to start carving. I’ve noticed fatigue and even getting back in the water, you notice how some of your endurance levels have been brought down. It’s just going to take time, the consistency of being on the water and training to build that back up. It just felt good to be back to what I know, what I’m pretty much born to do, like I was back at one with myself.
Long road ahead
It’s crazy because it doesn’t feel that long, but at the same time it’s felt like I’ve been rehabbing forever. I’m so ready to be back on the water – I knew in my head, even when I got injured, that it wasn’t the end.
Hope and glory
I see myself accomplishing so much more, and I know I have so much more to give and to show in terms of my abilities. For an athlete, I think the knowledge that there’s more to come is a good thing. I never contemplated it or second-guessed it. It’s my hope, and I never felt like it was taken from me.
Back on board
Breaking my left femur in 2006 – mentally, that was just unbelievable. The knee was kind of the same thing, though, although the pain was worse than when I broke my leg. The knee injury was one of those things I never saw coming from a hundred miles. I’ve never felt so completely heartbroken, drained and frustrated all at once. It took it all out of me and to get another injury, and to know what I have to look forward to, is really devastating. But through each injury, every athlete gets smarter and learns from it and grows as a person. Mentally, it’s something you’ve just got to accept. You can’t really get too stuck on why this happened and I’m so happy and relieved to be back wakeboarding again.”
This article is featured in this month’s edition of the Red Bulletin.
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