Ready to deliver in Tokyo

Bitter leg injury a distant memory

LOCAL pole vaulter Liz Parnov has made a stunning comeback from injury and has her sights on next year’s Tokyo Olympics. 

Parnov, the Herald’s very own acting distribution manager, said goodbye to her day job this week in order to concentrate on full-time training and studies for next year. 

Parnov made her Olympic debut in 2012, and competed in the Commonwealth Games in 2010, 2014, and 2018. 

But it hasn’t been plain sailing. In April 2016, she had just taken out the Australian Championships and was just weeks away from the Rio Olympics qualifiers when she shattered her tibia at a training session. 

“As soon as I hit the mat I knew that it was serious; the pain in my knee was just excruciating,” Parnov said. 

Recovery

Olympic dream over, she spent nine months in recovery. For six weeks, she couldn’t walk at all; for another eight weeks she was on crutches. When one of the new metal screws in her knee started nicking a tendon, she had to return to hospital to have all of the metal removed from her leg. 

Yet she says she was able to maintain a positive attitude throughout and even watched the pole vaulting from her couch.

“I just love watching sport so much, I wouldn’t want to let my ego ruin it,” she said.

“You need to have perspective, and not take yourself too seriously. Tunnel vision is really dangerous – as my accident shows, everything can totally change in a moment.”

It helped that she had the support of her family, many of whom were athletes themselves. Her grandmother won a bronze medal for the USSR at the 1968 Olympics. At the 2000 Games, aunt Tatiana Grigorieva won a silver medal for pole-vaulting. Her sister Vicky was a champion pole-vaulter too, and her dad coaches.

“My family understand what it’s like to compete. They get it if something’s not working, or you’ve had a bad day. They were really supportive throughout my recovery,” Parnov said.

Parnov has returned to the sport with a vengeance. She trains six days a week, mixing pole-vaulting practise with strength, conditioning and cardio. Two years ago, she placed fifth in the Commonwealth Games.

Although her personal best of 4.6 metres would still have been a little shy of a medal position at the 2016 Rio Olympics, Parnov says it’s the type of sport where an outlier can have their day, particularly as the favourites can unexpectedly crash out and leave a medal up for grabs.

By LOTTIE ELTON

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