Olympic gold medallist Shona McCallin discusses her road to recovery after suffering a concussion while playing for England against Argentina
Shona McCallin would be the first to admit that 2018 has been a nightmare year, but the Newark hockey star is taking the positives from the cruel hand she has been dealt.
The former Dry Doddington resident was a member of the Great Britain squad that took gold at Rio 2016 Olympics, but has since suffered a concussion while playing for England in February and hasn’t been able to return to the field since.
The after-effects have kept her out of the Commonwealth Games and the Women’s Hockey World Cup on home soil, but the international is doing what she can to bring awareness to the issue, having taken part in an in-depth interview with the BBC to tell her story.
“It was really quite overwhelming in the summer to get all the responses from people having seen my interview about how much they have learned, or how similarly they have felt,” she said.
“It was never my intention to generate exposure for it, but I do think it’s very important for people to understand the seriousness of it, because the onus is often on the individual or the athlete to report the symptoms and it’s quite easily hidden.
“If it was to be hidden, the long-term consequences of that can be tragic.
“I think it’s important for it not to be a taboo subject. It’s an injury, just like an ankle injury or a hamstring injury.
“I think people just need to take note of how serious it is and be educated.
“It’s nice to know there are other people out there and other people taking note as to the nature of concussion, which is a tricky thing to understand.”
Despite the on-going research into concussions, McCallin’s frustration arises with the fact that she remains unsure as to when she can return to the game she loves.
With the beginning of the newly-restructured FIH Pro League just around the corner the 26-year-old is itching to get back out there.
“I think probably one of the most difficult things with concussion is that there’s no time span on it,” she said.
“If you rupture an ankle ligament or knee ligament, or strain a muscle, there’s always a timeline on it.
“As an athlete that’s what you want, your next question is, “when I can get back on the pitch?”
“With concussion, nobody really knows, and that’s been a real challenge for me.
“It’s difficult for the doctors and physios to put a timeline on it.
“It’s a waiting game, and it’s just something that I have to accept.”
McCallin was speaking at SportsAid’s One-to-Watch award ceremony at London City Hall.
The international midfielder, an alumnus of the charity, was delighted to celebrate the best of Britain’s upcoming sporting talent.
“It really resonates with me because the Ones-to-Watch, I’ve been there,” she said.
“I was supported by them as a junior athlete and really know the benefits that being involved and being supported by SportsAid brought to me as an athlete in terms of confidence, in terms of increasing my skillset away from the hockey pitch and financially to parents as well.
“It’s exciting to be here. I always try and come to the events and it’s cool to hear the stories about the youngsters that are up and coming and that we do have some really exciting talent in the British ranks.”
You can help support the next generation of British Olympians and Paralympians by making a regular or one-off donation to SportsAid. Visit http://www.sportsaid.org.uk/get-involved/make-a-donation/