By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway
Around 8:16 a.m. on Monday, Deya Erickson carefully laid her stretching mat on the track at the A. O. Shirley Recreation Grounds, placed her bag on it then began arranging the nearby hurdles to begin her drills.
This time a year ago, Erickson, the BVI’s 100m Hurdles National Record holder, was on crutches recovering from a September knee surgery, after getting injured in April as she was about to leave for the 2016 Carifta Games in Grenada.
With nine months off, over the summer, she began doing basic dynamic movements to strengthen her hips and elsewhere, before starting to run in October after Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
The process for her 2018 comeback is underway.
“When I got hurt, I was basically not doing anything when I went back to school because obviously, I had to go through a procedure to do an MRI to figure out the problem,” said Erickson who attends Turabo University in Puerto Rico. “I was to do surgery in June, but I came home in the summer when school closed so I waited until September because I couldn’t fly right after the surgery. So during the summer, I did things to stay active and not be bored, because usually, I’d be training so I did something that would keep me going until I returned to Puerto Rico and prepared for the surgery.”
Following the surgery, she said that she had a mishap with the school and was unable to complete her full rehab and was off for the rest of the year.
Now that she’s back in action, she said the problem isn’t getting over the hurdles because she overcame that, but the issue is strengthening her knee to prevent further injury.
“If I don’t strengthen the knee the way I’m supposed to, it doesn’t make sense to make a comeback,” she stated. “Then I’ll have more problems.”
She’ll soon begin working with a therapist for the necessary rehabilitative work.
When asked what she was looking for before suffering the injury, Erickson who has a personal best time of 14.09 seconds, said she was aiming to break the 14 seconds barrier and get down to 13.8 seconds and get more exposure although she was already in school.
“The main focus was just to go faster, although I was having a rough season,” she said of the transition to college last year. “I was still trying. Unfortunately, I had a bad accident.”
She said her hardest transition to college was fitting in with the athletes on the track because they were Spanish, but her focus was to get along with them, respect them and ensure she got the same respect.
“That first part of competition was challenging,” she reflected. “My races leading up to Carifta were very rocky and I didn’t even know if I would make the qualifying standard—but I did, two weeks before Carifta. I was nervous and ready to give up, but it was just the beginning of the season so I had to keep going.”
Erickson said it was difficult not being able to compete in the 2016 Carifta Games which was her last.
“I can’t even begin to express how I felt,” she stated on reflection. “I was disappointed. Very upset. I was way more than disappointed because it was my last year and I had a lot of expectations to perform well, even though my season wasn’t going good, I still had faith that I could have perform better than in the races I had before.”
While her hope is to get back doing what she loves in 2018, Erickson said she has nothing to prove to anyone but herself. Running next year she said, would mean proving to herself that she can basically do anything.
“Running even faster after an injury like I’ve never had before, would show that I’m strong,” she said. “Strong, not just physically but mentally and that basically any obstacle that comes my way, I can conquer it.”
Through the whole process, Erickson said she has learnt to be patient and have faith. If you don’t have faith and if you doubt yourself she said and if you don’t have anything to look forward to, it doesn’t make sense to work or do anything because you wouldn’t be getting the best out of it.
“It’s when you have faith, you know that something great will come out of your hard work,” she said. “When you know you have the privilege and God gave you the gift and you have talent and you can do something great with it.”