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Fighting injury and covid-19 for a spot at the Commonwealth Games 2022

Monday 22 November in Sport

As sportsmen and women prepare for the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham next year, athletes across the Island are gearing themselves up for selection with the next set of athletes for Team Isle of Man set to be announced in the new year. Training for a place in the Commonwealth Games Team requires commitment, a high level of physical endurance and an appetite for mental determination. And for athletes such as Rachael Franklin and Alan Corlett, the path hasn’t been the kindest.

Rachael and Alan shared their story with Islandlife’s Tia Welsh.

Bouncing back from injury is never an easy task, especially when you have your heart set on making the Commonwealth Games qualifying time for the 5,000 metres race.

As a middle distance runner Rachael achieved Commonwealth Games standard last year, but was sidetracked by a stress fracture spending 6-8 weeks in a boot. “It was hard at first, but I just had to fully accept it,” she admitted. “I kept setting myself little goals – eating and sleeping well etc. When I finally got back running, it was nice just to run for 5 minutes.”

Her long-term partner and fellow long-distance runner, Alan Corlett, who has his sights set on representing Team Isle of Man in the marathon event added, “It’s hard to listen to your body, because trying to achieve the standard for the Commonwealth Games is so high.”

Since emerging from rehab, Rachael found her motivation had returned, entering a number of races in the North of England, despite contracting covid-19 in July. “Even though I was double jabbed, it was an inconvenience as I had races lined up.,” Franklin revealed. “But it was also a blessing in disguise, since I was just bouncing back from my injury and re-starting my training. It was good to give my body a rest, even though I had to isolate for ten days.”

When asked about the ‘effects’ of covid-19, Rachael said, “I felt a bit fatigued. My heart rate was a little high after every run I went on, and it took a while to decrease, but I just tried to keep eating healthy. I slept a lot.”

Meanwhile, her partner found the pandemic had a negative impact on his training. An ex-footballer and rugby player, Alan met Rachael at a running training session. He pointed out that trying to keep your motivation up is so hard. “Your goal is never set in stone because competitions keep getting cancelled. Most of our competitions are off Island, so not being able to travel made it difficult. I’ve not been able to compete as such, but I am grateful for my sponsor Rex Motor Company who have offered what support they can.”

The runner went on to say how he picked up a knee injury, resulted from over training. “The mental fatigue is enormous. You prepare your body and mind for competitions that don’t happen and it becomes so disheartening. You start to lose focus and momentum because you feel like your efforts are being wasted.”

For the majority of lockdown, the couple were fortunate enough to still train, using the old railway lines to run during quiet times. “We tried to be safe and go to places where other people wouldn’t go.. Isle of Man Sports Aid lent us strength and conditioning equipment – so we had a home gym which really helped us keep on top of this.

Despite the rollercoaster of the last year and a half, the couple have tackled these challenges head on with an upbeat attitude and solid partnership that could arguably conquer almost any running race.

It seems that living together, juggling a relationship and two full-time jobs has its perks. “You both understand what the other is going through, so that makes it a lot easier. It’s about balance and knowing how the other person works at the end of the day.”

Although the future remains uncertain, the pair are armed for whatever comes next, with an impressive set of timings and a huge resilience.

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