Wakeboarding: Putting a positive spin on recovery

An injury sustained during training last July put wakeboarder Sasha Christian out of action for more than six months, but the dual SEA Games champion is now ready to get back on the water so she can defend her two gold medals at the Kuala Lumpur SEA
An injury sustained during training last July put wakeboarder Sasha Christian out of action for more than six months, but the dual SEA Games champion is now ready to get back on the water so she can defend her two gold medals at the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games in August.PHOTO: DAVID NGIAM

Wakeboarder is back in her element, eyeing SEA Games defence after enforced absence

For more than six months, Sasha Christian has had to endure the agony of being near the water, as the national wakeboarder often is - but not on it.

But with her longest injury lay-off now behind her, the 23-year-old has her feet strapped back onto her trusty board and the defence of her two titles at this year's SEA Games in her sights.

"These past six months have been quite an experience," she told The Straits Times yesterday, shortly after completing her first wakeboard session since injury last July.

"I wanted so much to be back on the water and training. It was a very good lesson in being patient, and just trusting the doctor and trainer."

An awkward landing during training had left the full-time wakeboarder with an impact fracture to her right tibia, ending her competition season before it even started.

It also meant being resigned to turning the steering wheel on boats rather than flipping somersaults on the water.

IT'S ALL ABOUT PERSPECTIVE

For six months I've been telling other skiers what to do, so when I got back, it felt natural because I've been repeating it myself.

SASHA CHRISTIAN, national wakeboarder, on coaching herself back to peak condition.

"I was surprisingly positive," she recalled. "Fortunately, none of my ligaments were damaged, I didn't have to go through surgery and doctors thought I would be able to get back to training in about three months."

But over time, when it was discovered there was damage to her cartilage as well, Christian herself could also feel that she was not quite ready to get back to training.

Said the 2015 SEA Games slalom and wakeboarding champion: "I couldn't even imagine myself wakeboarding. I was not confident at all."

Most of her time since has been spent in rehabilitation and in the gym.

Turning to coaching has also helped her keep her mind close to the sport.

Said Christian, who expects to return to full training in two weeks: "For six months I've been telling other skiers what to do, so when I got back, it felt natural because I've been repeating it myself."

Despite having less than seven months to get ready for the Aug 19-31 Kuala Lumpur SEA Games, her coach Suter Tan has no doubt his charge will be ready in time.

He said: "We have more than ample time to get everything back in order from where she left off. All she needs to do is maintain her standard.

"We'll need to get some practice in Malaysia to fine-tune the boat speed and rope lining, but for Sasha, there's nothing for her to stress about."

The athlete is quietly confident, having already been in a similar situation before. She was out for 10 weeks just before the 2015 Games, after a Grade 2 tear in her rotator cuff.

Said Christian, whose biggest competition is expected to come from host Malaysia and Indonesia: "If I continue training smart and not over-exert myself, and trust the training plan, I think it will be enough time.

"Worrying about it doesn't benefit (me). I just need to focus on what I can do on my own and that's what I can control."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 27, 2017, with the headline 'Putting a positive spin on recovery'. Print Edition | Subscribe