So close and yet so far for some athletes



So close and yet so far. Photo illustration: Dylan Crawford



For every athlete who made it to the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, there are scores whose hopes have been dashed by last minute injuries and other obstacles.

After years of preparation, numerous athletes from around the Commonwealth have been ruled out on the cusp of the Games due to a range of adverse circumstances.  

Rio Olympics silver medallist Canadian sprinter Andre De Grasse has pulled out of the Games due to a previous injury.

De Grasse said he withdrew from the Games because he did not feel like he was at his physical peak and at a place to do his best.

Aussie Sevens rising star Simon Kennewell, 21, was left heartbroken after being dropped from the Games team following an ACL rupture early in the 2018 season.

Kennewell said playing rugby and representing Australia in the green and gold has always been a dream.

“I was in shock and completely devastated, all of the hours and hours of hard work that disappear in a midst of heart beat,” he said.

Kennewell is undergoing rehabilitation to come back bigger and better for the 2019 season.

Australian Rugby Sevens suffered a second blow last week when captain James Stannard was ruled out of the Games due to a fractured skull in an alleged random one-punch attack after a team gathering in Sydney.

Rugby Australia high performance manager Ben Whitaker said the entire Australian team had Stannard in their thoughts.

“The team will have to show again they are very resilient to get through this and support James to get healthy and work their way towards gold at the Commonwealth Games,” he said.

Three of Team Scotland’s track and field athletes, Andy Butchart (endurance runner), Jax Thoirs (pole vaulter) and Emma Nuttall (high jumper), have been ruled out due to injury and fitness problems.

Butchart suffered a fractured navicular bone in February at the Millrose Games in New York.

Thoirs withdrew after surgery as a result of a blood clot issue.

Nuttall is still recovering from a knee injury confirmed as tendinopathy which forced her to stop training and competition until later this year.

South African sprinter, 400m champion Wayde van Niekerk, has been ruled out of the Games after a serious knee injury.

Niekerk said in a statement he would focus on recovery to enable him to race again in late 2018.

Kenya’s 800m world record holder David Rudisha has withdrawn from the Games to prepare for the Doha Diamond League meetings in May after a quad muscle strain in 2017 cost him training preparation for the Games.

New Zealand women’s hockey team midfielder, 22-year-old Tessa Jopp has been ruled out for medical reasons.

New Zealand head coach Mark Hager said he is disappointed for Jopp but agrees with the difficult decision.

“She was training and playing really well, which is why she was picked in the team,” Mr Hager said.

“Our medical team made a decision that I support, and we just hope everyone can respect her privacy.”

South Africa has lost Danelle Lochner and Lenize Potgieter on the eve of the Games due to ankle injuries.

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