Double ligament tear, the athlete’s ‘Himalaya’

There is no possible consolation for Carolina Marín. The reigning Olympic badminton champion will have to undergo surgery again to undergo surgery for a torn ligament in her knee and will miss the Tokyo Games this summer. After suffering this injury to the right knee in 2019, this time it is the left that has done crack and forces the Spanish to put the brakes on. A double challenge that several athletes have had to face and not all have managed to overcome.

“Fear exists when you don’t trust the knee. Until you feel prepared when training, based on falls, jumps, you cannot go out to play ”, admits Sergio Asenjo, Villarreal goalkeeper, hardened in overcoming torn ligaments. At 31 years old, the meta has risen from 4 breaks (2010, 2011, 2015 and 2017), two in each knee. His ability to recover is based on his psychological strength according to those who accompanied him during that process. “Mentally he is extraordinarily strong. The day after he was injured, he was already with his head up and he wanted to start working to recover ”, remembers Jordi Vives, Villarreal’s readapter.

His case is the extreme, but the truth is that soccer is the sport where it is more common to see this type of injury. Many never recover from a torn ligament, and fewer manage to get up after a second operation. Well, Sergio Canales has managed to overcome three of these injuries (2011, 2012 and 2015) and is now one of the best midfielders in the League. This season, his 8 goals and 6 assists have made him the Betis leader that returns to Europe. Chimy Ávila has been the most recent case we have witnessed. The Argentine forward from Osasuna returned this year 435 days later and after chaining two ligament tears, one in each knee.

But there are also other athletes from various disciplines who have suffered this hell. In Spain the memory of Raül López, basketball player and member of the golden generation of the national team, is kept. The point guard tore the ligament in his right knee twice in his youth, but that did not stop him from making the jump to the NBA to become the third Spaniard to play in the American league after Fernando Martín and his teammate Pau Gasol. In Utah Jazz, his destination club after leaving Real Madrid, he suffered his third break, this time in his left knee and was only able to play 31 games between 2003 and 2005. “I had to reinvent myself and there I put on a breastplate to separate myself of the expectations that could have with me ”, affirmed the player after his retirement in 2016, with the silver medal of the Beijing 2008 Games hanging around his neck.

In handball, Spain has an example of improvement in Nerea Pena. The 31-year-old from Navarra injured her knee twice in less than a year and had to miss the 2012 London Olympics, a situation similar to what Carolina Marín is now going through. Pena could not be part of the team that achieved the bronze medal, his best mark in a few Games, but he reappeared in the next tournament to achieve the runner-up in the 2014 European Championship. In the last World Cup in 2019, he led Spain to his first final and is currently one of the pillars of the selection.

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