Harry Kendall defied all odds to make the Commonwealth Games

·4 min read
England's Harry Kendall at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games

Harry Kendall should not be competing at these Commonwealth Games. Not really.

The decathlete dislocated his ankle in training just six weeks ago - June 20 to be precise - only two days before Team England announced the athletes selected for Birmingham 2022.

But after undergoing five weeks of rehab and an intense training week, the 25-year-old from Kent came through the opening day of the 10-event competition to sit in sixth place.

“I dislocated my ankle six weeks ago so the lead up to this has basically been five weeks of rehab and one week of cramming in every technical event,” he revealed.

“I was pole vaulting and it was pretty much my first session back since I got my PB at national champs, ran through on the bed got my spike stuck in the mat and it popped out.

“I didn’t realise, took another step landed one my toe and thought, that doesn’t feel right. I pushed down and felt it pop back in and thought, ‘Oh gosh, that hurts.

“It was the 20th of June, and I can’t thank Team England and the Commonwealth Games enough for getting me to this point because without them I’d have been stuck.

“I was debating not telling them at all and just trying to keep my place in the team because it was two days before they announced it, but I rang them up straight away.

“They said go for an MRI, move up to Loughborough to get treatment and without them I wouldn’t be here so really, really grateful to them for that.”

Kendall opened his competition with a 11.25 second run in the 100m, before leaping to 7.10m in the long jump and finishing the morning session with a shotput attempt of 1.91m.

He completed the first day of decathlon action with a high jump effort of 1.91m before crossing the line in the 400m in fourth for midway points total of 3924 at Alexander Stadium.

“It’s less than ideal but it is what it is,” Kendall continued. “I told Team England, I told the management, I wouldn’t have competed here if I didn’t hope to come out and do myself justice.

“I think under the circumstances I’ve done all right. 100m is down but that was more my start, I just didn’t react to the gun. I heard it go and thought, ‘Oh I better run now’.

“As an experience, it’s the best experience of my life so far. It took me until the long jump to realise how invested they were in it, I thought I’ll use this it’s home field advantage.

“It’s like playing Mario Kart and driving over a mushroom, you get a boost. You would be silly not to use it and obviously my day would have been 10 percent worse if I’d not had them cheering me.

“Obviously coming into this, my first major champs, no one knows who I am. They are just happy I’m wearing an England vest so hopefully I can raise the profile of decathlon in this country.”

A medal now looks out of Kendall’s reach, with Grenada’s Lindon Victor (4327) and Kurt Felix (4145) currently in gold and bronze medal position with Cedric Dubler (4242) in second.

But to even complete the event would be an achievement of incredible human endurance.

“To be honest I haven’t really had any pain in it for the last week or two. That 400m was the only time I felt anything,” added Kendall, who claimed his first national title earlier this year.

“As a result of dislocating my ankle, I separated two of the ligaments and I also had a stress fracture in the top of my foot which I think might have a been a pre-existing injury.

“I could feel that running around the bend so every time my foot twists in its sore but as far as tomorrow goes, it hasn’t affected me in any of the events, so I’ll be fine.

“Coming into this I would have loved a medal, it might be a bit far off now, but you never know how day two of the decathlon is going to go so I’ll just go and do the best I can.”

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