It is not everyday that British middle-distance champion Eilish McClogan, 24, is in Manchester. Naturally, TNT went to have an exclusive chat with her at East Manchester Leisure Centre today, to get an insight into her rehabilitation program with her ankle injury.
In what can only be described as a warm and friendly conversation – owing to Eilish’s approachable and relaxed temperament – Eilish told TNT that her only current option to get back in shape for the Olympics 2016 is to “train to the same standard” as she did prior to her injury, “with less impact”.
“There is too much impact going into my bones especially that left bone [of the left ankle] for some reason. If I can get the same physical benefits out of being in the swimming pool” through ‘aqua jogging’, then Rio 2016 is possible.
Having twisted her ankle on a trip to South Africa and not being able to walk at all two days afterwards, Eilish had a scan and found out that she had cracked a part of her calcaneus bone – the large bone that forms the foundation of the rear part of the foot.
The setback was an obvious blow to Eilish as this limited her mobility, the one thing her career relies upon. After taking 8 weeks off, going through the rehab process, she tried to run again back in May and worsened the injury. “It hadn’t completely healed so I re-fractured it. It has just been a nightmare; I have been off for 10 months for something that usually takes 2 months”, she explained.
Only five weeks prior to our interview, in which the Dundee-born champion chose to stand on crutches – a sign of her determination to get back on her feet – she had surgery on her ankle. “They [surgeons] have inserted two metal screws into my ankle” to force the bone to heal, she said.
Ever the optimist and determined to get back to normality, Eilish hopes to be back jogging in October before heading out to Kenya in December to train and build up from there to the Olympics 2016 selection process next April.
“It will still be difficult to make it but I had a similar surgery in 2011 and made the 2012 Olympics”, where she competed in the women’s 3000 metres steeplechase alongside compatriot Barbara Parker, she said. Eilish hopes to qualify for the 5000 meters event next year.
Just two days before her surgery, she moved to Manchester from Loughborough and says having a facility like East Manchester Leisure Centre has been “a huge help” for her.
Faye West, General Manager at Better East Manchester Leisure Centre said, “We’re delighted to be able to help Eilish with her recovery. It’s great for the local youngsters to be able to see her using the centre every day and see what athletes have to do to keep their place at the top of their sport. We’d like to think that we’re playing our part in getting her to Rio next year.”
Councillor Rosa Battle, Manchester City Council assistant executive member for culture and leisure, said, “We’re very proud of all our community sports facilities across the city and the fact that East Manchester is being used by an athlete of Eilish’s calibre is a reflection of their high quality.
Throughout the summer holiday free swimming is on offer for all Manchester children age 16 or under, so for any youngster who’s not visited their local pool there’s really no better time to explore what’s on offer.”
On parting words of inspiration for the youngsters, Eilish told TNT that “Find something that you enjoy and put your focus and effort into that. A lot of children are forced into athletics. I’m very lucky that what was a hobby has now turned into a career for me.”
TNT Sport Yasin Chinembiri