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Fitness & Health

31st May 2019

Sprinter overcomes gruesome gymnastics injury to win Olympic medals

Team GB sprinter Asha Philip explains how she fought back from a serious knee injury to win a medal at the Olympic Games in Rio

Alex Roberts

Sponsored by PhD Nutrition

Coming back from a debilitating injury is impressive enough, even more so when you then go on to succeed in a different sport

That’s what happened to Asha Philip. The Team GB sprinter began her athletic life as a gymnast, experiencing early success in the World Junior Championships.

However, in July 2007, Philip suffered a serious knee injury while representing the UK at the Trampoline World Championships in Canada.

This kind of injury could easily have ended Asha Philip’s career, but it’s fair to say she used it as motivation to return.

Set up for success

And what a return it has been. Philip has since gone on to enjoy a wealth of success in athletics, becoming one of the UK’s fastest and most successful female athletes, having won medals at all major championships across Olympic, World, European and Commonwealth championships.

The crowning moments include a gold medal and new British record at the European Indoor Championships in 2017, to further support her Olympic Bronze medal at Rio 2016.

Such an impressive return takes an immense amount of courage and determination. To learn more about Philip’s steely mindset, we sent Dylan Evans to meet her as part of the Dedication series in partnership with PhD Nutrition.

Dylan is an MMA fighter in remission from Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a rare form of blood cancer.

As well as tips on staying motivated and overcoming adversity, Philip put Dylan through his paces in the gym.

Philip says she gained motivation from seeing small and steady improvements in her recovery.

“It was just the fact that I saw the small steps I was taking – so being able to move my leg without assistance from crutches or my other leg.

“Learning how to jog without a brace, that’s what made me think ‘okay yeah I can do this.”

Motivational mindset

Overcoming such adversity wasn’t easy for Philip, nor was developing the necessary self-belief.

“For me, it took a while to believe in myself – to say ‘yes I can do it’.”

Whether you’re fighting through illness or injury, Philip says giving 100% is crucial to achieving your goals.

Suffering such a devastating injury actually provided perspective which Philip harnessed to better her performance on the track.

“When I’m going out onto the track I just know I’m giving it my all.

“I’m going to enjoy it because I didn’t have this experience – or hadn’t had it in such a long time, all those years when I was out. Let me enjoy this moment.”

It would be easy for most people to lose focus when performing in front of millions, but Philip remains defiant.

“You can’t control anybody else. You can only control yourself and your mind and what you do. So if you’re going to concentrate on someone else it’s not going to get you anywhere.”

Asha Philip Sprinter Gym

Strength training for sprinting

You’d also be forgiven for thinking that training for a sprinter just involves getting out on the track for as long as possible.

However, when Asha took Dylan through a gym workout, she showed it’s about developing power with a careful selection of expert lifts.

  • Trap bar deadlift: With a PB of 185kg, Asha incorporates this lift into her program as it develops the glutes, quads and hamstrings, and places less stress on the lower back when compared to the standard deadlift
  • Leg press: This is a great squat alternative, again recruiting major lower body muscle groups to build power & strength. Asha performs it unilaterally (single leg), which allows her to develop equal strength in each leg
  • Weighted press-up: Working all the same muscles as the bench press such as the chest, triceps and shoulders, the weighted press up is performed simply by adding a weight plate to the back.

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