Meadows stays positive despite injury hell

Jenny Meadows
Jenny Meadows

IT would be quite easy to understand Jenny Meadows feeling down and glum.

Last year, she was left out of the Olympic team because of an Achilles problem which wiped out her 2012.

And now she will miss the World Championships – and the rest of this year’s action – after suffering a stress fracture to her femur.

But a negative attitude is something Meadows has never had and, no matter what she faces in her career, ever will.

The 32-year-old is always positive and rather than let it get her down or even push her towards early retirement, this latest setback has simply spurred her on more.

It’s given her greater drive and ambition to come back stronger. In fact, the only r-word in her vocabulary at the moment is Rio.

“I’m really positive,” she told the Observer. “My saving grace – although it’s still frustrating – is that I was in the shape of my life.

“If that would not have been the case, it might have made me think: ‘Is it time to hang my spikes up? Have I seen my best days?’

“March and April were absolutely phenomenal though. Once my injury appeared, I said to Trevor (Painter, her husband and coach), it’s one of those things where I’ll go to the World Championships and win it or I won’t go at all.

“Unfortunately it’s the latter.

“It’s made me still want to keep going, I’ve obviously got the Commonwealth Games and the European Championships next year which is great because it’s just underneath World and Olympic level and not something out of my reach.

“They’re the competitions where I feel I can be on the top of the podium if I can get myself in normal shape. I’m definitely motivated to at least give it another year and hopefully if that goes well, go all the way to Rio.”

She will be 35 then – but takes inspiration from the fact Dame Kelly Holmes was 34 when she claimed double gold in Athens.

Of course, there were feelings of pain and anguish once her scan results were revealed last week – the latest cruel setback of a career which has peaked with podium finishes at

Meadows doesn’t think either define the future of an athlete though. Instead, she believe that it’s how you react to them which influence success.

“When I saw the results of the scans, I was thinking: ‘How can this happen to me?’” admitted Meadows, whose career highs include competing at the Beijing Olympics and winning World Indoor silver.

“You do go through those emotions of it’s not fair and why me?

“But 24 hours later, I was back in the garage on my stationary bike, making sure I took my frustration out on that, there are still things I can do.

“It’s been a big part of my career, I’ve had lots of peaks and troughs. It’s not always been brilliant but luckily enough for me I have had a lot of ups too.

“It’s the people who ride the waves and keep going who achieve their ambitions.

“I literally can’t sit down at home and watch a film unless my husband drags me!

“I’ve always got an agenda, I’ve always got something to do and I’m just busy from morning to night, even though I’m not training at the moment.

“It’s that mental drive that no matter what happens in your life, you work hard at it and give 100 per cent.

“I think ultimately that is what makes you successful no matter what area you work in.”

While Meadows’ injury does prevent her from carrying out her intense training plan – as well as deny her the chance to build on her 2009 World Championships 800m bronze medal – it does give her more chance to spend time with family and friends as well as attend more community events.

One project the middle-distance runner does have her eye on being involved with is Wigan Youth Zone. It was the launch of this project that Meadows was speaking to the Observer.

With niece Rebekah by her side and other nephews elsewhere trying out the facilities, she spoke of her excitement and what she believes the place will bring to the town.

“We’re really lucky in Wigan,” Meadows pointed out. “I’ve always said that, since I was seven and I joined Wigan Harriers.

“People say to me ‘where do you train now?’ and I tell them I’m still at Robin Park and people are surprised.

“But everything I’ve ever wanted in life with regards to education, college and sports facilities, it’s always been available to me in my home town.

“It just gets better and better though.

“Wigan is renowned for sport and it’s great that there are activities here (Wigan Youth Zone) like the climbing wall, the gym, the boxing ring, which I think is brilliant. But you can get other skills here like the dance studio and the music room as well.

“It definitely is a one stop shop, there is something here for everyone.

“The people who work here, you can tell how great they are and they set the right sort of atmosphere and environment. Kids will just thrive on it – I just wish I was younger!”

With its remarkable facilities, Wigan Youth Zone is the latest addition to Wigan’s bustling sporting scene.

A proud Wiganer, Meadows is someone who will back anything and anyone associated with the town, regardless of the sport.

She said: “It’s absolutely fantastic with the football club winning the FA Cup, the Warriors doing so well and now this area the young people have which belongs to them, it’s absolutely brilliant.

“It would be special to have the Challenge Cup back here with the FA Cup too.

“Wigan has everything, from the FA Cup, Warriors being the league leaders and look likely to finish top.

“I was track and field captain, Bradley Wiggins is just down the road – we have some amazing people.”