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Wed 29th Jun 2022
A time to reflect
Posted by: Michelle Dillon
Posted on: Wednesday 27th August 2008

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As we see the close of the Beijing Olympic Games, I feel myself reflecting on several different feelings I have felt during the last two weeks. As many of you will know, I have been suffering from a de-generative back disorder that has progressively got worse. During last winter the pain and symptoms increased and reached a point where I was physically not able to train with the pain any longer. Since then I have been receiving treatment and have just received the word that it now needs to be operated on. Throughout my career I have suffered my fair share of injuries and my back problems have popped up quite frequently. One of the most memorable times when my back caused distress was before the Athens Olympic Games in 2004, when I received an epidural in my spine before the race, just to get me to the start-line. This makes my sixth place in Athens such an achievement, however at the time I suffered from disappointment as I so dearly wanted to be on the podium with a medal around my neck as all Olympians do. Little did I know that even after the 2008 games my sixth place would remain as the most successful British Olympic Triathlon performance to date.

Watching many of Team GB receive medals in Beijing was emotional knowing what you go through as an athlete and this inspires and motivates me. I cannot describe how privileged you feel to represent your country in your sport and I can only imagine how it must feel when it ends in glory. The thought of standing on the podium listening to your home Nation’s Anthem actually gives me goose bumps, just thinking about it. Team GB’s achievements this have been fantastic and I hope that the results encourage more people to become involved in sport.

Not only was it disappointing for me not be at the games but my partner and athlete Stuart Hayes also had to watch the games from the sofa instead of experiencing the games as an athlete. Stuart got a double puncture in the qualification race for the games. The Olympics still remains a box that Stuart would love to tick in his career. He sets his sights firmly on 2012 in London and I sincerely believe he can do it.

So what’s next for me? This is a question that I’m being asked frequently at the moment. Never one to rest on my laurels or sit idol in a chair, I have needed something to get me through the last few months, a new focus to concentrate on. I have started my own coaching business and am really enjoying see the progression of my talented and dedicated athletes. It is so great to be able to share my knowledge and experience. I have also bought Megaburn to the UK from Australia. Megaburn is a Natural Nutritional range of products that I am passionate about. I am sharing the existence of this amazing range of products and am seeing the athletes I coach and sports enthusiasts gain real benefits from these products.

I also have to undergo surgery on my back in the next month. My friend and manager Sarah and I sat amazed this weekend as the spinal surgeon diagnosed the exact problems with my back. Then we realised that I had in fact raced my 2007 season - one of the best seasons of my career - as well as winning the 2007 London Triathlon, with a tear in my disc at Level four and my spine rubbing together at Level five, where there is no longer a disc present as it has worn away. Surgery will involve my spine being fused at one level and a replacement of the torn disc. I am anxious about surgery but feel confident that my surgeon will perform miracles enabling me to regain 70-80% of normal spinal function. I am optimistic, about the result and long to be pain free. The surgeon tells me that all being well I should be able to perform again in triathlon at the highest level. This gives me hope and determination to come through the other side.

I’m glad that I haven’t announced my retirement and feel hopeful of a comeback. 2012 is four years away, I have unfinished business at the Olympic Games. Four years is a long time. So much happens in one week let alone in four years, so who knows – anything is possible!

Michelle Dillon About the Author

Michelle Dillon began her career as a distance runner, noteably going to the Commonwealth Games in Vancouver, Canada in 1994. Since making a move to triathlon at the age of 23 she has become one of the sport's most poignant figures. She has many accolades to her name including numerous World Cup podiums, European Triathlon Champion (2001), Bronze at the World Triathlon Championships (2002), British National Triathlon Champion (2003), World Duathlon Champion (2005) and is a two time Olympian (2000 & 2004) with a 6th place at Athens. Michelle now looks ahead to the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, where she hopes to be at the top of the podium. You can also keep up with her progress through her Wiggle Blog or see her website:

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