OVER the past 11 years, Steph Pollard has proven adept at running extremely fast. So fast in fact, the multiple Australian All Schools 100m and 200m medallist has set her sights on representing her country at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro.
While her speed in a straight line is unquestioned, her evasive footwork could clearly use a little work.
Pollard was left hobbled late last year after a run-in with a family pet left her with significant injuries to her left leg.
‘‘I was chasing after my cousins over at my aunt’s place and she’s got an old farm dog out at her place that’s completely deaf,’’ Pollard said.
‘‘[The dog] obviously didn’t hear me coming and when I stepped inside to try and avoid it my ankle just popped right out and I broke my leg at the same time.’’
The double whammy of a broken leg and a dislocated ankle meant Pollard was required to wear a cast for five-and-a-half weeks and a rehabilitation ‘moon boot’ for another two.
The injury also saw a metal plate and six screws inserted into the teenager’s leg.
Nearly six months on and Pollard is just now preparing to resume track work.
‘‘I’d managed to keep doing some training but when I got my leg out of the cast, it was really skinny,’’ Pollard said.
‘‘I had the plate and the screws out a couple of weeks ago and I’ve just been trying to get that strength and flexibility back into my leg.’’
It’s a slow process and one that will likely see the ACT Academy of Sport scholarship holder out of competition until the end of the year.
Her injuries have already seen Pollard miss out on a spot at the Australian Youth Championships in March as well as last year’s NSW and Australian All Schools championships.
‘‘The last six months basically have been really tough,’’ Pollard admitted.
‘‘I’d been putting in a lot of hard winter training looking toward Youth Championships so just mentally dealing with the disappointment of not being able to compete has been hard.
‘‘Sprinting is such a mental game though so hopefully this is going to strengthen me for the future...just knowing I can overcome that adversity.’’
While the injury setback has forced Pollard to reassess her immediate goals, the year-12 student’s long term aspirations remain unchanged.
Pollard has long held Olympic-sized ambitions and has singled out the 100m as her best chance of one day racing on the biggest stage in world sport.
In order to achieve that end, Pollard must first shave nearly a second off her personal best time if she’s to be any chance of earning Australian selection.
‘‘My PB at the moment is 12.22s but if I want to make it to the Olympics I’ve got to get that down into the mid-11s,’’ she said.
‘‘Hopefully I’m only a couple of years off that but a second is a lot of time. Getting a PB of .03s is a big deal for us sprinters so I’ve still got a lot of ground to make up.’’