Nickel Ashmeade wanted to give up after struggles with debilitating injury

By Ricardo Chambers & Donald Oliver August 06, 2020

2016 Olympic sprint relay Gold medalist Nickel Ashmeade has detailed the traumatic experiences which have derailed his career since the Rio Games.

Ashmeade, who is also a two-time World Championship relay gold medalist, has not been able to compete consistently since the 2017 season because of severe groin issues.

Speaking on The Commentators podcast with Ricardo Chambers and Donald Oliver, Ashmeade revealed, “I have a thing called Heterotopic Ossification.”

Heterotopic Ossification is the word used to describe bone that forms in a location where it should not exist.

The 30-year-old says his issues started ahead of the 2013 IAAF World Championships in Moscow but he repeatedly “just ignored it.”

However, the breaking point came in 2017, “where it ripped out completely when at a race in Italy.”

Even visits to world-renowned Dr Hans-Wilhelm Muller Wohlfahrt yielded little success that year.  

The abnormal bone growth in his groin reached as much as 7 1/2 inches and has required a series of surgeries to correct.

The three-time world 200 metres finalist says he has had six incisions in the last two years but is finally fit again.

He showed his level of fitness by clocking 10.16 and 20.47 seconds over 100 and 200 metres respectively at a meet in Florida on the 24th and 25th of July. 

Listen to the full episode to hear about how he held up mentally during the period plus his prognosis for the future as he now focuses on the Tokyo Olympics scheduled for 2021.

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  • Feeling fit and sharp as ever, Jamaican hurdler Thomas looking good to book spot on Olympic team Feeling fit and sharp as ever, Jamaican hurdler Thomas looking good to book spot on Olympic team

    Jamaica hurdler Damion Thomas believes he is finally firmly back on the right track after several recent seasons where he was plagued by injuries and indifferent form.

    The 21-year-old Louisiana State University student registered his first NCAA title this past indoor season and last month continued that form with brilliant hurdling, which saw him clock a world-leading 13.22 seconds (1.3m/s) at the Texas Relays.

    The efforts mark a comeback of sorts for Thomas who tied the U20 world record in the 110-meter hurdles, after running 12.99 over the 39-inch height at the 2018 Jamaican Junior Championships. He then followed up the record-breaking moment by winning gold at the World U20 Championships.

    A quadriceps injury during the 2019 season, however, hampered the hurdler's efforts to build on a promising start to his collegiate career and, of course, in 2020, the global pandemic saw sports grind to a halt for several months.

     "I'd say last year's coronavirus [pandemic] shutting down the season was probably more heartbreaking than my sophomore year and the injuries," Thomas said in an interview with Milesplit USA.

    "I felt healthy, training was going so well into the meet and then they shut it down for everybody. Right after that meeting, I remember all of us just going to one room and we literally were staring out the window. 'Like dang this is crazy.'"

     The athlete, however, managed to use the quarantine period to his advantage, putting work into honing his technique.  He has emerged from the hiatus as strong and sharp as ever and is so far a big favourite to secure a spot on the Jamaica Olympic squad later this year.

    "It feels good to know that I'm on the right path," Thomas said of his resurgence.

    “I think the big thing now is ... not to be complacent and continue to look at the flaws in my race to see where I can get better. I want to stay hungry and continue to feel like an underdog. Even though I'm world-leading, that doesn't mean anything going forward."

     

  • Tokyo Games 100 days to go: Spitz says Olympics must not prevent 'rightful opportunity to speak out' Tokyo Games 100 days to go: Spitz says Olympics must not prevent 'rightful opportunity to speak out'

    Olympics great Mark Spitz believes politically active athletes are unlikely to heed demands for them not to protest during Tokyo 2020.

    United States swimming superstar Spitz won seven gold medals at the 1972 Munich Games to establish himself as an all-time legend of the pool.

    He recalled the Black Power salute from American track athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the Mexico Games four years earlier as a prime example of Olympians using their platform to take a powerful stance in front of the watching world.

    On the podium in Mexico City, after Smith won gold in the 200 metres and Carlos took bronze, the American sprinters each stood with a black-gloved hand raised and head bowed, an immortal protest against racism in the United States.

    Spitz acknowledged the determined efforts of current sporting superstars such as LeBron James and Lewis Hamilton to draw attention to similar matters of racial prejudice.

    International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach said last year that the Olympics "are not and must never be a platform to advance political or any other divisive ends".

    Bach added: "Our political neutrality is undermined whenever organisations or individuals attempt to use the Olympic Games as a stage for their own agendas, as legitimate as they may be."

    In an interview with Stats Perform, Spitz said of the IOC's intentions: "I know they have had some campaigns at a political level not to make it a platform for people to speak out against things that are obviously a concern to them, and they use when they stand on the podium and win a medal to voice their opinion.

    "I am on the fence in how I feel about it. An example was Tommie Smith and John Carlos who held their hands up in the 1968 Olympic Games in track and field. And that still resonates to this day.

    "And the issues they spoke loud and clear about are still happening here in America and worldwide. So I don't think people's rightful opportunity to speak out will be eradicated."

    Speaking courtesy of Laureus, Spitz added: "I think there's a proper place and a proper time and in most people's opinion the proper place and time are when the most people in the world are listening to you.

    "And certainly that provokes those sort of things to happen at the Olympics, or other events for that matter."

    Formula One champion Hamilton and NBA superstar James have used their global fame as a means to call for equality in society and sport.

    Spitz stressed he remained "down the middle of the line" on political protests in sport, but he added: "I think morally if they feel they need to speak out then they should. And there's a way to do that in a polite and politically correct and accurate way. I think those two gentlemen [Hamilton and James] have done so."

    Spitz, now 71, no longer holds the record for the most gold medals in a single Games after fellow swimming great Michael Phelps won eight at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

    He predicted organisers of the delayed Tokyo Olympics - set back a year by the COVID-19 pandemic - will go the extra mile to deliver a standout entertainment experience for the worldwide audience.

    International spectators have been banned from travelling to watch the Games, in an effort to control the spread of the virus.

    "I suspect and hope they will go off without a hitch, but in keeping with tradition I'm not sure how they'll do an opening ceremony with all those people, or an opening ceremony show," Spitz said.

    "It is a big revenue generator for the television networks to have those part of the festivities. It's a shame if it's not done as we're accustomed to seeing, but I think it will be modified and we'll be happy with what the presentation will be I hope."

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