Bendigo basketball star Kristi Harrower should be fit to take part in the Australian Opals’ pre-Olympic Games training camps beginning Monday week.
Harrower admitted to being doubtful following troubles with the Achilles tendon in her right leg since the WNBL season and the 37-year-old Bendigo Spirit point guard has only recently begun running again.
She emerged unscathed from a sprint session yesterday, which gave her renewed confidence she could attend her fourth Olympics at the London Games in July.
Plagued with Achilles injuries throughout her career, Harrower could barely train for much of the 2011-12 WNBL season.
But since the season ended she has continued to have her own blood injected into the problem area as part of a rehabilitation program, which also involved pool running, bike riding, pilates and weights.
“It’s feeling the best it ever has to be honest with you,” Harrower said.
“I was worried about it two weeks ago – not sure if it was improving – but the running session that I just did was the best one that I’ve done so far and I didn’t really feel anything, so that’s positive.”
The Opals squad will come together for a five-day training camp from May 14, after which the selectors will cut the squad before another three-day camp.
Harrower, who has won three Olympic silver medals, is hopeful she will be able to participate in at least one session per day at the first camp, but is mindful of not overdoing her training.
“It’s about realising it’s all about July and not so much right now, and just being careful in what we do, not rushing me back,” she said.
“I suppose I’m at the age where I’ve got to be careful and monitor what I do and make sure I’m right.”
The Opals are in Group B for the Games, along with Brazil, Great Britain, Russia and the third and fourth-placed teams from the World Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
“The pool looks good, we’ve got good preparation together this year so hopefully whoever we play we can beat,” Harrower said.
“We’ve got to beat anybody just to get back into the medal rounds – we had a disappointing world championships (fifth in 2010) so we’ve just got to get back into the medal rounds.”
The Opals will host Brazil at Hisense Arena in Melbourne on June 24 in the first of a three-game farewell series, while the men’s team – the Boomers – will host Greece.
Meanwhile, Harrower is taking a wait-and-see approach to continuing her career with the Bendigo Spirit for one more season.
Two of the Spirit’s best players last season – MVP Tess Madgen and Deanna Smith – have left the club and losing Harrower would be a massive blow.
Provided her body holds up, Harrower would like to finish her career in Bendigo, but she wants to play in a team capable of winning the title.
“If it is going to be my last year, I want to be in a pretty good team that’s going to push for a championship,” she said.
“I’m sort of waiting to see what team we have and who we’re recruiting.
“I can’t really make any decisions right now with the way my body is, I’ve got to wait and see if I can hold up during the Olympic Games and just make decisions as I go along.
“I don’t want to be in the situation where I never train and just play. I’d rather retire.
“But I’d like to give it one more shot though, being in Bendigo and being able to walk away from the sport in Bendigo and not overseas somewhere.
“If we had nearly close to the team as what we had last year, I’d still give it a shot.”