(Montreal) Gabriella Page still speaks emotionally about the injury she sustained at the World Fencing Championships in July 2022. Leading 13-9 in her round of 64 duel, Page collapsed to the ground and could no longer stand up. She knew immediately that the injury was serious, but she was determined to finish her confrontation.
On one leg, the Quebecer finally admitted defeat at the count of 15-14 in front of the Indian Bhavani Devi Chadalavada Anandha Sundhararaman. A few moments later, the worst was confirmed for her: a torn anterior cruciate ligament that would require an operation, then a long convalescence.
“As soon as I got up after falling, I knew it wasn’t normal, it was more than a minor injury. It was so painful, I was falling with every action, I couldn’t concentrate so much it hurt, ”recalls Page in an interview with Sportcom.
“We did tests the same day and we saw that my ligament was 90% torn. It broke my heart obviously, it was difficult. The operation was really the only option, I didn’t want to take any chances anyway, better take care of it right away to move on as soon as possible. »
No question for the saber to feel sorry for her fate, she who immediately saw the opportunities to work on aspects of her fencing that she does not have the chance to refine in normal times. She knew that by continuing to train, she would be back in good shape for the qualifying process for the Paris Olympics in 2024.
“I started physiotherapy just two days after the operation, I wanted to stay active. A month later, I took private lessons with my coach to practice seated fencing. It allowed me to keep my hand game up to date and stay in the game,” she explains, noting that video viewing and analysis was also part of her routine during this time.
As a misfortune never comes alone, the 28-year-old athlete was involved in a road accident at the end of October. The result of the races: a concussion and a full month’s rest.
“I got hit by a van and whiplashed, had concussion symptoms 24 hours later. I had to stop training! It was a hard blow, especially since I seemed to be ahead of my rehabilitation. I took my pain patiently and followed all the recommendations to heal as quickly as possible. »
Once again, Page wanted to take advantage of this incident. She first took the time to take care of her mental health, which she had by her own admission been a little neglected in recent years.
“At first I thought this enforced break was going to be hard on my mental health, but eventually I was able to step back and better understand that my identity is more than just being a fencer. I took care of the Gabriella outside of the sport. When you don’t have external recognition like medals or good results, you have to find positive thoughts to keep moving forward and I’ve worked on that a lot more in the last year. »
During her recovery, she had the opportunity to explore a new avenue by getting involved as a coach at the Seigneurs de la Rive-Nord fencing club in Blainville. A revelation for those who love this new role. She is also convinced that having this experience will benefit her when she returns to the slopes.
“I quickly became involved at my club with the young people by taking charge of training and doing planning. It was important for me to stay involved and it quickly became a passion. I really love being able to be with young people and pass on my knowledge. »
If all goes well, Page should get the all-clear to compete at the Saber World Cup in Batumi, Georgia on May 12. The Olympian from the Tokyo Games says she is really excited about the idea of resuming competitions.
“I just attended a training camp in Fukuoka, Japan. Then we’ll head to Georgia for a 10-day camp and there’s the World Cup. There are no words that can explain how excited I am. I don’t want to have any expectations, I just want to live in the present moment and enjoy it to the fullest. »
Until then, she will accompany her teammates to the Grand Prix in Seoul, South Korea, which will start this Thursday, April 27. She will definitely want to use what she has learned as a coach to provide the best advice to her compatriots.
Pamela Brind’Amour, Farès Arfa, François Cauchon, Marc Gélinas and Andrew Wei will be the Quebecers in action this weekend in Seoul.
“I want to get into the competitive atmosphere to be ready when I come back. I know I won’t be able to stay in the stands, so I’ll be on the sidelines to be able to advise and help my teammates. Maybe we’re talking about preparing for part of my post-career, who knows? concludes Page.