Brendan Green – Hay River’s very own Olympian – is hoping to be ready and able to qualify for next year’s winter games in Russia.
The biathlete, who competed at the Vancouver Olympic Winter Games in 2010, is still recovering from an injury that originated when he was hurt training with weights in mid-2011.
In the last year-and-a-half, he has struggled to get over a herniated disk in his back. After recovering from the original injury, he returned to skiing, but the herniated disk returned and he eventually underwent two surgeries. The most recent surgery was in August of last year.
“It’s been a long, uphill road with the recovery, but I think things are starting to come around now. I’m back on skis now. I have been for maybe about six weeks,” he said in a telephone interview last week from Canmore, Alta., where he trains with the national biathlon team.
“I’m not able to ski a lot yet or do anything kind of close to what I was able to do before, but we’re kind of progressing in that direction. I am making gains. It’s very slow gains, though, but it does seem like things are progressing forward and I am able to train on a modified program now.”
The 26-year-old Green is “definitely” optimistic he will be ready for the Olympic Winter Games about a year from now in Sochi, Russia.
“I’m definitely not making it easy for myself, but the goal is to be more or less 100 per cent come May and I’m hoping at that time to be able to join the team with full-on training,” he said. “In regards to the Olympics, in the last year while I was dealing with the injury, I still had some of the best races of my career and so, based on those races, I’ve met two-thirds of my Olympic criteria already.”
That means he has to meet the last third of the qualifying criteria, which is basically a rankings system, by December.
“Obviously, this is a huge setback, but I think if I can get back close to the form that I was in prior to the surgeries, definitely it’s still an attainable goal,” he said.
Green said the surgery on Aug. 15 was more invasive than a first surgery in April.
“I think it was successful, but because it was more invasive, more thorough, it really took a lot out of me and the recovery process from that surgery has been quite long and pretty hard,” he said.
His last competitive race was in February of last year.
As for when he will resume racing, Green is not setting any timelines.
However, he will be at the Canadian National Ski Championships, which will be held in Whistler, B.C., in March.
Green said he will be doing training, but doubts that will include racing.
“I think it’s unlikely,” he said. “But if things maybe progress a little faster over the next month than we expect, then maybe that could be a possibility.”
On Feb. 13, Green left for Europe and a pre-Olympic World Cup event in Sochi, Russia, from March
“That’s basically the only opportunity that we as athletes get to preview the course and see the venue,” he said. “So I’ll be along on that trip to do some training there and preview the course and help out a bit.”
Green will help scout the course for the national team and test skis and wax.
There are many people in the NWT pulling for Green to make a quick and full recovery.
“We can only hope. His health is paramount,” said Hay River’s Pat Bobinski, president of the NWT Biathlon Association. “As far as I’m concerned, he’s got to get healthy before he takes that next step. I’m expecting quantum leaps from Brendan as he goes forward, as his healing progresses.”
Bobinski said Green is a huge role model in the NWT. “It’s not only for biathlon. It’s for all sports.”
— Paul Bickford