GLASGOW(Reuters) - When England’s Emelia Gorecka runs in the 5,000 metres final at the Commonwealth Games she will know any temporary pain on the track will be nothing compared to what she has been through just to get to Glasgow.
The 20-year-old, a European junior 3,000m and cross-country champion, was diagnosed with Scoliosis, a condition that meant she suffered with a curved spine, at the beginning of her junior career.
It was a genetic condition that was not related to the sport but it meant she struggled with basic movements, like moving her arms freely.
Gorecka barely noticed the problem initially and was relatively unaffected in her running until she received some devastating news that threatened her fledging career which reaches a peak in her first major senior final on Saturday.
“In 2008, I discovered that my condition had declined and I was now the proud owner of two curves of 27 and 34 degrees, displayed as a rather distorted ‘S’ shape on the X-ray,” she wrote on her website (www.emelia-gorecka.co.uk).
“My consultant told me that I would have to wear a body brace to support my back as I completed my adolescent growth spurt. I was also told that I might not be able to spend enough time out of the brace each week to continue training.
“This was the first time in my life where I was struck silent. In that split second I decided I would never let anyone tell me that there was anything that was out of my reach.
“My mum helped me to wipe away the tears, we talked the consultant through the weekly training regime that I was committed to at that time and he agreed that I could come out of the brace for a total of 10 hours each week to train and to race.”
Instead of being deterred by the diagnosis Gorecka was bullish in the face of adversity and saw running as an opportunity to be free, for at least a few hours each week.
“My attitude changed quickly to one of, ‘the sooner the brace is on, the sooner it will be off’. I wore the brace for the next three years of my life for up to 23 hours each day,” she said.
“For the hour that I was allowed out of the brace I decided to dedicate to my training, my way of life.
“From then on, every time I was able to take the brace off and go for a run, I felt an elation of freedom and comfort – it was the only point in my day where I wasn’t restricted by a fibre glass corset, and I loved my running even more.”
Gorecka made the step up to senior level competition at the beginning of the year.
She has drawn comparisons with British long distance runner Paula Radcliffe, who is the women’s marathon world record holder and won the 5,000 gold medal at the Games 12 years ago in Manchester.
The pair followed similar junior careers and Gorecka will hope to emulate Radcliffe’s achievements in the senior ranks.
Editing by Ed Osmond