Author: Adam MacDougall   Date Posted:28 November 2016 

WHEN an accident on an end-of-season surfing trip in Indonesia left him with a severely broken leg, ironman champion Matt Poole would only realise days later how close he came to never being able to compete again.

The injury, caused by a surf landing gone wrong, left the 27-year-old stuck on a boat and days away from a hospital in the remote Mentawai Islands off the western coast of Sumatra.

Matt had to draw on all his experiences and strength as an elite athlete to block out the pain before receiving medical attention.

“Injuries are just something you have to deal with as an athlete,” Matt said. “I was a long way away from a hospital and ended up being stuck on the boat for three days after I broke my leg, but fortunately with our sport the pain threshold’s quite high. I knew it was bad but I was able to pretty much block it out until I got home.

“When I got back to Australia, though, and they cut the cast off, my foot was blue and purple and twice as big as a size 12. And then when I saw the X-ray after the first surgery, with six pins in my foot and a plate in my ankle joint, it became real and I thought, ‘Wow, I may never be able to run again’.

“For a long time I was unsure whether I was ever going to be able to compete again, so to make it back to the start line in this year’s ironman series was a real achievement.”

Now the ironman series is finished, Matt will look to push his body and mind to their limits again in July as he fights to defend his 2014 world title in the Molokai 2 Oahu Paddleboard World Championships in Hawaii.

“It’s a huge competition,” he said. “We’re racing through a notoriously deadly 52km stretch of open water with everything from sharks to massive waves.

“You’re on your board paddling for up to six hours, so it’s an absolute killer.”

If he can win, Matt will savour this victory more than most.

“When you go through setbacks and hit rock bottom in terms of injuries it makes the victories all the sweeter. If I can reclaim my title this year it’ll be something special,” he said.