Canada's Crew back in shot put circle after broken foot derailed last season
But 24-year-old says break gave her a chance to 'miss the sport'
Brittany Crew sees the silver lining in the foot injury that derailed her season last summer.
"It gave me a chance to miss the sport," Crew said.
The Canadian record-holder in the women's shot put is back in the competitive throwing circle after breaking the fifth metatarsal in her right foot in August, a week before the NACAC championships in Toronto.
The 24-year-old from Mississauga, Ont., was training in Belgium. It was the final day of practice — "Of course," she said. She'd been nervous about the toe board — the barrier at the top of the throwing circle — being shorter and not as wide as she was accustomed to. And sure enough, she inadvertently stepped on the board and suffered a spiral fracture, a type of break caused by rotational force.
"It was kind of like a blessing in disguise in a way," Crew said. "The last two years have been a little hectic, and we've jumped in season to season without really having any off time, and so (the injury) forced me to take a long off-season."
She was off her foot for eight weeks. Crew dedicated the extra free time on her hands to school. She's in her final semester of her kinesiology degree at York University, and her fall semester grades were her best yet.
Canada's track and field team was walloped by injuries and absences last season. Joining Crew on the sidelines were Andre De Grasse (hamstring), Alysha Newman (knee), Derek Drouin (neck), and Melissa Bishop (pregnancy).
They should all be back in the first of two big seasons in the sport. This summer's schedule includes the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, where Crew hopes to climb the medal podium, and the world championships in Doha, Qatar, where she's aiming for another top-eight finish.
Rewriting record book
Crew, who has been consistently rewriting the Canadian record the past couple of seasons, posted the country's best finish ever by a female shot putter with her sixth-place result at the 2017 world championships in London.
A strong season of big throws this year will set her up nicely heading into the 2020 Tokyo Olympic year.
Crew said she was surprised by how much she retained in her time off.
"One of the first days back spinning I was a little nervous about the toe board, but it just felt like I hadn't really been out of it," she said. "My strength levels were obviously a little down, but I didn't lose too, too much, and my body composition, my muscle mass I actually basically retained all of it.
"I'd just say the springiness, especially in my right ankle, it's still not completely stable, so it's going to be a lot of rehab on the ankle. I'm wearing an ankle brace for now."
Has the forced time away from her sport made her appreciate the gruelling hours in the gym more?
"I was really enjoying the short days," she said, with a laugh. "We were in the long, heavy phase (of base training) and we're just starting to get out of it. So maybe in a couple weeks if you ask me, I'll be happy."
Crew is back competing for York University this season, and hopes to improve on her U Sports shot put record, and also break the weight throw record. In her final season of eligibility, she also hopes to compete in the FISU (World University) Games in Italy.
She'll throw shot put in a university meet on Sunday at York, her first competition in the event since her injury.
"Just to get a competition in before Boston. We'll see how it goes, I don't really have any expectations," Crew said. "The first few meets I might surprise myself, but I'm just getting back into it so hopefully I can get in a groove and improve upon the Canadian record indoors, so that would be cool."
She'll throw against the world's best on the IAAF World Tour, an indoor series that begins with the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix in Boston on Jan. 26.
"The indoor season is just getting myself back up there, knocking the rust off, and having a good consistent fun indoor season."," Crew said.