Young gun defying career-threatening virus

Shayna Jack says she draws inspiration from a generation of strong women. Picture: Liam Kidston.

SHE tracks her rise to becoming one of the world’s best sprinters in large part to her training partners and Shayna Jack will take another leaf out of the Campbell sisters’ book when she takes an extended break from swimming after the Pan Pacs.

Jack’s sabbatical will not be anywhere as long as that taken by Cate Campbell after the Rio Games, or the break Commonwealth Games gold medallist Bronte Campbell is taking this year to rest her battered body.

But having battled an energy-sapping virus for the past two years, Jack will take the opportunity following this week’s Pan Pacific Championships in Tokyo to rest completely for a month to allow her immune system to fully recover.

“It’s been a rollercoaster (couple of years) obviously with sicknesses,” Jack said.

(L-R) Shayna Jack, Cate Campbell, Emma McKeon and Bronte Campbell after winning relay gold at the Commonwealth Games. Picture: AAP

(L-R) Shayna Jack, Cate Campbell, Emma McKeon and Bronte Campbell after winning relay gold at the Commonwealth Games. Picture: AAPSource:AAP

“(The virus I originally suffered) was quite major. It probably is still a bit lingering at the moment.

“As soon as my immune system gets a bit low I come crashing down, so we have to be a bit wary of that when we’re doing a lot of hard sessions in a row, just monitoring my heart rate.

The original infection, a virus akin to the energy-sapping glandular fever, affects Jack’s ability to train hard for extended periods of time and she and coach Simon Cusack have had to constantly monitor her health and adjust workouts where necessary.

“Cate (Campbell) had chronic fatigue when she was younger, so Simon learnt a lot from that and when she came back, she could barely swim many sessions without getting sick.

“Cate and Bronte have obviously had their fair share of injuries, so Simon’s very flexible and understanding and knows how to work with athletes and what struggles they may go through, which is really nice to have as a partner in crime.

“(Last year), I’d have a really good week and then I’d have two weeks of being sick and Simon and I had to make a plan of how we were going to work with that.

“So after Pan Pacs I’m actually going to be having a month off just to really let my immune system build up again and have that break that it’s needed.”

Shayna Jack and Cate Campbell at the Commonwealth Games. Picture: Getty

Shayna Jack and Cate Campbell at the Commonwealth Games. Picture: GettySource:Getty Images

Before then though, Jack is determined to make the most of this week’s meet in the Olympic city to ensure she is on track to meet her goal of competing at the 2020 Olympics.

She will take on Cate Campbell and world champion Simone Manuel in the 50m and 100m freestyle and while she wants to perform well this week, everything is a guide for 2020.

“I obviously want to make it to 2020, that’s definitely the pinnacle of my goals at the moment,” she said.

“(Making the Olympics would mean) everything to me.

Shayna Jack suffers from an energy-sapping virus. Picture: Liam Kidston.

Shayna Jack suffers from an energy-sapping virus. Picture: Liam Kidston.Source:News Corp Australia

“I obviously would be devastated if I didn’t make it but at the moment, all that’s in my head is that I will make it — and that’s the type of that’ll that I am, it’s not if or but, it’s when.”

“We’re also monitoring cholesterol which is a stress and everything like that because that’s definitely a factor that brings athletes low and their immune systems come crashing down.

“So we’ve been tracking that just to make sure if there’s any spikes in that we know that I can just cut back a bit of my session that day or sleep in the next morning just to build myself back up for another main session.

MONITORING THE VIRUSES

“It was definitely a learning experience coming into Commonwealth Games trials because we didn’t know how much it would affect my body because it was a similar fever to glandular and it definitely was hard.

“Especially going into worlds, that was mentally tough and I learnt a lot from that being young and having that be my first team.

“We went on and continued training and I just kept getting sick.

“I’d have a really good week and then I’d have two weeks of being sick and Simon and I had to make a plan of how we were going to work with that.

Shayna Jack has the world at her feet.

Shayna Jack has the world at her feet.Source:News Corp Australia

“So after Pan Pacs I’m actually going to be having a month off just to really let my immune system build up again and have that break that it’s needed.

“We didn’t get much break leading into Commonwealth Games after worlds.

“So that was probably something that didn’t let it fix itself as quickly as it might have.

“But I think the challenges we go through are what builds us as athletes.

“I definitely think that’s morality and builds character and it’s really important for me to keep pushing.”

SIMON, BRONTE, CATE

“Cate, I know she had chronic fatigue when she was younger, so Simon learnt a lot from that and when she came back, she could barely swim many sessions without getting sick, so they’re had to focus purely on gym and building strength through that.

“Cate and Bronte have obviously had their fair share of injuries, so Simon’s very flexible and understanding and knows how to work with athletes and what struggles they may go through, which is really nice to have as a partner in crime.”

SETTING AND CONQUERING GOALS

“I obviously want to make it to 2020, that’s definitely the pinnacle of my goals at the moment.

“Next year will just be another practice, getting learning experience, seeing what works and what doesn’t work.

“As an athlete I’ve still got heaps to learn and having ate and Bronte by my side has been such a nice experience because I’ve learnt so much just from watching them train, watching the way they handle themselves, when they make decisions about whether or not they should brace, that’s been something I’ve really valued having them as training partners, just the way they think and process everything.

“If they have a bad race, they way they talk to Simon, I just listen in and just see how they deal with those things because obviously mental is a big part of swimming and I’d like to think that mine is intact.”

PODIUM WITH THE SISTERS, MCKEON

“I was about to cry many times.

“I did a few times before we got there but it was an unbelievable experienced and one of those things … that every time I’ve talked about it I get a bit teary because of how much that moment meant to me.

“And especially because my brothers had never watched me race at international level and having them in the stands made me cry instantly and my parents were there and it was beautiful.”

Shayna Jack says she draws inspiration from a generation of strong women. Picture: Liam Kidston.

Shayna Jack says she draws inspiration from a generation of strong women. Picture: Liam Kidston.Source:News Corp Australia

EMPOWERMENT

“It’s amazing how in our generation the stronger the women, the better and more united we are and it’s beautiful to be a part of that and advising other young girls that it’s OK to be strong and it’s OK to feel that power and you don’t have to feel any less than what you are.

“Another thing I want to get out of being an athlete is a bit of inspiration.

“When I was young, I always looked up to a lot of athletes — Libby Trickett was the big one that I looked up to and when I met her it was the best day of my life, so I want to give that back to younger girls and boys.”

MAKING THE 2020 TOKYO OLYMPICS

“Everything to me.

“I obviously would be devastated if I didn’t make it but at the moment, all that’s in my head is that I will make it — and that’s the type of that’ll that I am, it’s not if or but, it’s when.

“I’m definitely looking forward to 2020, it’d be lovely to hopefully be able to see the pool when we’re there.

“I know it’s not finished yet but they’re definitely underway with the construction but it’d mean everything to me.

“My family have done so much to … they’ve sacrificed a lot too let me live this dream and I’m very grateful for that.”

 

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