On August 3, 2012, Sally Kipyego became an Olympic medalist when she won silver at 10,000 meters.
On September 7, 2012, the celebration was cruelly cut short when she broke the calcaneus bone in her left heel with about 70 meters remaining in the 5000 at the Brussels Diamond League meet. The NYRR Dash to the Finish 5K will be her first race since the injury.
Or rather, injuries: In March, just as the heel was coming around, she broke it again.
As frustrating as her 14-month layoff from competition has been, Kipyego said yesterday that it could have been much worse: She could have been injured before the Olympics.
“It was hard to celebrate,” said the 27-year-old Kenyan, who trains in Portland, OR, under coach Mark Rowland for the Oregon Track Club Elite. “But I am also happy that I got a chance to show the world my talent.”
After the Brussels injury, Kipyego cross-trained by aqua jogging (“Oh, God, I spent a lot of time in the pool!”) and biking. But when she re-broke the heel, she stopped, and did nothing for two months. A nine-time NCAA champion at Texas Tech, she spent some time back in the Lone Star State visiting a friend, and forgot about running.
“I felt like I had to emotionally let it go,” she said. “Even though I was injured before I never really let it go. I was still thinking in my head that I would be competitive and that I would run. So even though I was physically doing very little, I was emotionally invested in the running. When I got injured in March I had to let my body go physically and I had to let my mind go and just shut it down and break the cycle. I did that and I came back and felt like a new person.”
Kipyego said that she doesn’t know what to expect on Saturday: She could have a bad day, or she could win.
“I’m [running] with a very open mind,” she said.
“Our races are to our sport what Wimbledon and the Australian, U.S., and French Opens are to tennis, and what the Masters, U.S., and British Opens and PGA Championship are to golf. Each race has the history, the tradition, the honor roll of legendary champions, and a special place in the eyes of all to make them stand apart from the other events.” Mary Wittenberg