Ellis' Olympic dream in doubt

THE OLYMPIC dream of Ipswich hockey star Jo Ellis is hanging in the balance.Ellis is still recovering from a serious injury suffered while in Australia with the Great Britain squad as part of their preparation for the Beijing Olympics in September.

Nick Garnham

THE OLYMPIC dream of Ipswich hockey star Jo Ellis is hanging in the balance.

Ellis is still recovering from a serious injury suffered while in Australia with the Great Britain squad as part of their preparation for the Beijing Olympics in September.

The 26-year-old spent two days in hospital after being injured in a warm-up match in Perth and had to have air drained from a lung.


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The injury ruled her out of playing any part in the subsequent five-match series against Australia, which the hosts won 5-0, and has cast a shadow over whether she will make the cut when the 16-strong squad is announced in June.

The injury occurred in the first warm-up match Down Under in early February and resulted in Ellis being sent home two weeks into the month-long tour.

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"It was only the fourth day of the trip, so the timing could not have been much worse. We'd had a few jet-lagged training sessions before we then played the Western Australia Institute.

"I went to stop the ball and this girl whacked me came from behind. I was cross because I don't know what she was doing. I went down straightaway and had to come off.

"My shoulder was sore and I had some treatment and went back on, but the first time I got the ball I felt this pain across my chest and I had to come straight off.

"At the time I thought I had just injured my shoulder, but the following day I did some running in the morning followed by a hard bike session and I found I was struggling with my breathing."

Ellis was taken to hospital where X-rays revealed there was a pocket of air around her lung which had caused it to collapse, while she suffered what is known as a 'stinger' which has left her with neuro and soft tissue damage.

She returned a couple of days later and spent two days in hospital where she had air drained away from her lung before returning to England.

"Initially I was really disappointed because of the shoulder injury, but I thought I might be able to play in the first Test.

"When I realised the extent of the injury I was really gutted, but then I got to the stage where I just wanted to get better as quickly as possible as there is not a lot of time until the squad is picked for the Olympics.

"Being sent home was hard to deal with as I was looking forward to the five matches against one of the best teams in the world. It is a key time in our preparation. We had an intense time training in November, December and January and then had the opportunity to play in the warm weather, so to be sent home was disappointing. I was not angry, just disappointed, because I knew I needed to come home to get it sorted out."

Ellis does not even know the name of the opponent whose rash tackle has caused her such anguish as she did not apologise to her at the time or afterwards.

"We didn't know our opponents. Playing a team from the Institute is not like playing against the full Australian team."

Because of the nature of the injury, Ellis has not been given a definite date when she will be able to return to action.

"It has been a massive waiting game and very frustrating.

"It has been a struggle, but I am getting there. The lung is fine now and my shoulder has improved to the extent that I have picked up a hockey stick for the first time since the injury.

"It is now a case of building up my fitness, which I hope to do by the end of this month when we have games coming up in Ireland and then against Argentina.

"If I am fit and perform well in those matches then hopefully I will still be selected.

"It is my dream to go to the Olympic Games and the injury has been a setback, but I am staying positive."

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