29-year-old Hannah Miley of Scotland has experienced a prolific career, one that includes 7 World Championships medals, 14 European Championships medals, 4 Commonwealth Games medals and 4 individual Olympic final appearances.
At the Olympic Games in Rio, Miley finished a painstaking 4th place in her signature event, the women’s 400m IM, falling short of the podium by just .15. Most recently at this summer’s Commonwealth Games, Miley did get on the podium in the 400m IM, earning silver behind England’s Aimee Willmott by just .26.
With this result in mind, it was surprising to some that Miley, and Willmott for that matter, was dropped from British funding for the 2018/19 season. Per British Swimming, funding is largely based on an analysis of athletes’ current and past performances to gauge Olympic medal potential.
But lack of funding wasn’t the only blow Miley has suffered post-Gold Coast. After suffering from ankle pain for nearly 2 years, the 5’5″ pint-sized powerhouse finally underwent surgery in September to remove an extra ligament found in her ankle.
She told BBC this week, “That ligament had completely frayed, so they have removed it. The procedure was to try and get that out, and I am just on the road to recovery, trying to get rid of the scarring tissue, and get the range back in my ankle.”
Doctors have told the Scottish star that it will take ‘probably around 6 months to a year’ before she can get back to elite competition.
“I’m coming up for three months now which they say is always the hardest part,” she said. “I’m learning a lot about myself and my body, and how to manage it. I’m just taking it a month at a time.”
With the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo now less than 2 years away, will Miley strive to finally hit the 400m IM podium after finishing 6th in Beijing, 5th in London and 4th in Rio?
“I am still optimistic,” she told BBC. “I think I would be very daft if I made a clear-cut decision just because of this; I have never been in this situation before, and I don’t really know what it means for my body.
“So once it gets back to feeling fresh and not being in pain, I would like to see what my body is capable of doing. I will know early on if it is capable of going for another Games or not, so I’m not ruling it out but at the same time I’m not saying I’m definitely going to be going.
“I’m kind of leaving the door wide open because I just love what I do, and it would be very hard on the day, whenever that comes, to say I want to finish.
“Tokyo is there, I’m very aware it is there – that is why I am taking it a month at a time. If I think too far into the future, I would probably get myself into a knot, because I feel I am not achieving what I expect of myself.
“So small goals are going to keep me moving forward and give myself a realistic option. I would love to do it, but I need to make sure I give myself a fighting chance of being up there among the best again.”