Kiwi pole vaulter Eliza McCartney has revealed that she suffers from a condition that may have impacted her career over the past three years.
The Olympic bronze medallist announced in September that she was withdrawing from the world athletics championship to take a break to recover physically and mentally, with one eye on next year's Olympics in Tokyo.
In a post to her followers on social media, McCartney opened up about her struggles with injuries over the years, and revealed that she may have a "genetic disorder that causes autoimmune inflammation".
"My amazing followers, it's time I share what's been happening in the last 2 months," McCartney wrote on Instagram. "I've been a little quiet on social media and some of you have been asking why I'm not posting about my training and vaulting. I hope after reading this you can appreciate that I haven't been in the right space to share this until now, but here goes.
"After pulling out of World Champs I was back to injury free training for the first time since August 2018. But that ended abruptly one vault session when I got a sudden, intense pain in my Achilles. I was hoping it would just be a short flare of my reoccurring tendinitis, but instead of improving, my Achilles completely deteriorated."
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The 22-year-old said that she and her team have discovered a potential cause for her recent struggles with injuries, which makes it more difficult for her to recover.
"Numerous scans, in and out of a moon boot, not able to walk, some days unable to even put any weight through that foot, and all the while being completely unclear on why I had such an atypical Achilles tendinitis.
"That was now 8.5 weeks ago, and we've only just come across a potential cause, which possibly has been present in some or all of the injuries I've had in the past 3 years. We think I might have a genetic disorder that causes autoimmune inflammation, particularly affecting tendons.
"Essentially this means over time microtrauma causes my immune system to go into overdrive and set off an inflammatory process in the affected area."
She said it has been "difficult to cope" at times, but is now in a better state of mind and is looking forward to working towards next year's Olympics.
"I've been continually challenged this year, and at times it's been difficult to cope, but the GOOD NEWS is I've started the medication for this condition and I'm finally feeling my positive self again
"I might not be ready to compete over the New Zealand summer, but all going well I'll be fit to qualify and build into Tokyo.
"It's going to be far from the ideal build up to an Olympics but after a year off I'm bloody ready for the challenge. There is a lot more I want to share but that's more than enough for one post.
"Please ask ANY QUESTIONS, I want to share my road to Tokyo with you all. Also, thank you all for sticking with me through these tough times, and a big thank you to my team and everyone else who has kept me afloat each time I've started to sink."