Jackson's determination praised by Team GB medics

21 February 2014 / 14:09

John Jackson won a mental and physical battle just to make the Olympics, according to the physio who guided him on the road to recovery.

Britain's four-man bobsleigh pilot was never in any doubt he would make the Games despite rupturing his Achilles during a sprint training session last summer - his first words to his worried team-mates were 'I'll be fine for Sochi'.

But Ashleigh Wallace, a physiotherapist at the Team GB Intensive Rehabilitation Unit, a partnership between the British Olympic Association and the English Institute of Sport, admits the speed of his recovery continues to amaze.

Jackson underwent pioneering surgery devised by Gordon Mackay, a world-renowned Scottish orthopaedic surgeon, and amazingly returned to action last December, winning Britain's first men's World Cup bobsleigh medal for 16 years with a silver in Lake Placid.

"Six months and two weeks ago he ruptured his Achilles completely and that sort of injury should take a year to recover from," said Wallace.

"He found a surgeon that was prepared to do ground-breaking surgery. Where his Achilles tendon attaches to the muscle, that had completely gone so his calf muscle ended up somewhere behind his knee. Most sprinters that get Achilles ruptures would see their career ended.

"But his surgeon retrieved the muscle and pulled four cords through the tendon and then attached them to three pins on the bone in his heel, it was brilliant surgery."

But Wallace insists it was Jackson's determination to get back to fitness that really amazed medics.

"There was no protocol for his rehab because it had never been done before," she added. "We saw him ten days after the operation and it was totally unknown territory for us.

"He was doing things at three weeks than we would normally do at nine weeks. What we do is point athletes in the right direction but it was his faith in himself that enabled him to get himself fit. 

"He has defied the odds because of his mental strength, he has pushed himself to the limit and beyond."

Meanwhile, Jackson - who finished fifth at last year's World Championships - insists he's happy with six official training runs at the Sanki Sliding Centre. 

“Looking at the training times we are in the mix but it will be tight," he said.

"To be on the podium in Sochi we’ve got to beat the current Olympic Champion and current world Champion. To get in the top six we’ve got to beat people who are consistently on the podium, so that’s the challenge we are up against.

“It’s going to be a good race. Whatever the result we are going to hold our heads up high and give it everything we can in true British fighting spirit.”

© Sportsbeat 2014