It can take more than just talent to represent your country. Just ask athlete Caryl Granville, who tells Owen Morgan of an eight-year battle to finally reach her target of the Commonwealth Games.
Hurdler Caryl Granville has spoken of her delight at having finally been selected to represent Wales at the Commonwealth Games.
Having missed out on Delhi in 2010, Glasgow in 2014 and initially been told she wasn’t going to Australia, the hurdler is still in shock after being named in the team of 21 to take part in the athletics programme at the multi-sport event.
A combination of serious injury and jaw surgery meant the Swansea Harrier had been out of action for the best part of three years.
However, a “dream season” in 2017 – where she registered a string of personal bests and B-qualifying standards for the Gold Coast games – put her into contention for a place on the plane Down Under.
But there was one more hurdle for her to overcome as she had to go to appeal for a place in the team after originally being left out of the final selection for Team Wales.
Speaking after the Welsh athletics team had been paraded in front of the crowd at the national indoor athletics championships in Cardiff, the 27-year old admitted: “I didn’t really expect to be here, to be honest.
“I only had B-standards in the 400 metre hurdles and the sprint hurdles. I knew that there were only going to be 108 places on the whole of Team Wales, so I was either going to be on the cusp of scraping in or staying at home.
“To be actually in the team, I’m really proud to have been selected and a little bit shocked. I’m really, really excited to be going.
“I initially had a phone call saying that I hadn’t been selected just before Christmas. I had to write an appeal and go to an appeals panel which was good because I had the chance to sit and actually talk to the appeals panel and explain why I believed they were wrong in not selecting me.
“Then, I found out a couple of weeks ago via email. We were about to watch a film at home at about 8pm at night . . . that film didn’t get watched!
“It was such an exciting time, I just sat there going ‘what!?’
“My boyfriend had to make all the phone calls to my family and friends. I was just sitting there in disbelief.”
Granville’s selection for the 100m and 400m hurdles is the end of a “nightmare” run of injuries and illness.
“Back in 2014 I had run the B-standard for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and I needed another one.
“I went to the Loughborough International in decent shape. I was coming down the home straight and my foot popped. It turns out that I had ruptured my plantar fascia.
“It was an horrific injury. I’ve had bad injuries before but it was horrendous. I couldn’t train for around two years.
“So, then I got back to fitness and I had to have jaw surgery. I had an open bite and I just had to get it done at some point.
“I’d been on the waiting list for that to happen for five years when I got the call. I had the operation in 2016 which wasn’t great timing after having been out for so long.”
“It felt like I would get into decent shape and then I would get injured. People would say that I hadn’t fulfilled my potential. It was really frustrating for me because I kept missing out.
“I missed out on going to Delhi, got injured before Glasgow and couldn’t go. I wanted someone to believe in me, to give me an opportunity to go and show my potential.”
Restored to full fitness, Granville was finally able to show her true potential during the 2017 athletics season.
She said: “So, basically, it’s been one season since I came back and I’ve done five Commonwealth Games B-standards . After all that has happened, it’s been the kind of season you dream about. I’m just really chuffed I’m going to be on the plane.
“I’ve had to do it the hard way, come back from a serious injury, show my potential and now I have been rewarded with a spot on the team.”
Like so many of the Welsh team, Granville has to juggle the demands of her athletics career with a full time job away from the track.
The 28-year-old said: “I’m a cardiac physiologist. We do diagnostic tests on the heart. I specialise in pace makers. I work in the Heath Hospital in Cardiff. We work 9 to 5 and then I’m also part of an on-call rota, so if someone’s having a heart attack or a pace maker problem we will get called in at any hour of the day.
“On Thursday I got to bed at 2.15 in the morning because I was on-call, so it is difficult but I have a good routine now. I go to work and then come straight to the track, sometimes I’m tired but it seems like a decent routine.
“I’ve also set up a garage gym at home, so rather than having to come to the track every night I can also train at home, so that’s not as hard as being away from the house all the time.”
Despite the difficulties of juggling such a demanding job with her athletics training, Granville says qualifying for the Commonwealths makes all the hard work worthwhile.
“In my garage gym I have a little whiteboard with the qualifying standards on. So every time I went in to the gym and felt like I couldn’t be bothered, I’d look at them and think ‘I’m trying to achieving something here’, so getting to the games was a huge motivating factor.”
Now, she is concentrating on overcoming a minor injury she picked up at the end of last year and making sure she is in the best possible shape by the time games begin in April.
She says: “I got injured before Christmas, had some time out and now I’ve been given the all clear to start building up the volume.
“Prior to my injury I was in outstanding shape, hopefully I haven’t lost too much. It wasn’t a big injury, I just had to take some time off from running. If I get back to the shape I was in back in October then I’ll be flying.”
With Caryl having booked her place on the plane she is now hoping her coach Darell Maynard will be able to join her.
Maynard, who works part-time in order to enable him to coach, has set up a Just Giving page in order to raise the money needed to pay for his trip to the Gold Coast to be at Caryl’s side.
The page can be found at https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/darrell-maynard.