By JOE ARTHUR,
Monash’s super sprinter Alexia Loizou had nothing come easy on the road to victory in the 2019 Stawell Women’s Gift handicap sprint, and there were times when it looked like she wouldn’t be competing at all, let alone winning.
Loizou suffered multiple setbacks while preparing for the race, hampered by significant injuries throughout the season.
“Earlier on in the season I was having really big problems with my feet,” Loizou said.
“I thought originally that I might have had a stress fracture, but it was actually a genetic issue with one of my bones which was meant to be in two pieces but was in three.
“I just kind of had to manage it carefully.”
Unfortunately for Loizou the pain didn’t end at her feet and after previously suffering from recurring knee issues, a month from the race they let her down again.
“About four weeks out – I have really bad knees and I’ve done four knee dislocations in the past – and at training my kneecap slid out a little bit,” Loizou said.
“I had really bad pains to the point where I couldn’t finish sessions.”
The injuries not only took a physical toll but also a mental one and at times Loizou questioned whether or not she was in the right headspace to compete.
“I had a lot of stress going in thinking that I was under-prepared because of my knee issues, I knew that my speed wasn’t where it needed to be,” she said.
Despite the setbacks, the second-year nursing student refused to quit, continuing to fight her way back into form and said that faith in her coach and in herself got her across the line.
“I trusted my coach to get me where I needed to be,” Loizou said.
“I worked really hard on changing my mindset around, in the past I’ve always kind of felt that believing in myself was arrogant but it’s okay to believe in yourself.
“That change in my mindset just made such a big difference and going into the semi I just had no doubt in my mind that it was something I could achieve.”
Ultimately the 21-year-old just wanted to do her best, she said winning this event gave her a sense of belief that wasn’t there in the past.
“I just wanted to run the best I could because at the end of the day if I had of come first or last but had run the best that I could, I would have been happy,” Loizou said.
“The win just showed me that I can really do anything that I set my mind to, If you really want something and you work so hard for it, you deserve it.”
Alexia now plans to take a well-earned break before focusing on her track running ahead of nationals competition next season.