The career of Blackpool hockey ace Kirsty Mackay is back on course after a serious injury setback scuppered her chances of competing in the London Olympic Games last year.
Goalkeeper Mackay had to sit on the sidelines while the Great Britain women’s team won bronze.
Her own hopes of making it into the team had disappeared as she spent no less than 13 months on the sidelines with a serious back injury.
The injury happened just as the build-up to London was intensifying.
But now that is all behind her and the 26-year-old has been selected for the England squad to compete in the Investec Hockey World League, starting next Saturday.
England will play three pool matches against South Africa, Australia and Spain in a tournament taking place at Chiswick.
Having missed London, it is now the Olympics in Rio in 2016 that are in Kirsty’s sight-lines.
Kirsty, whose family live in Blackpool, is now keen to make up for lost time after the injury.
She said: “It was a long time to be out and I missed the London Olympic cycle.
“At first it was thought I had muscle damage in my back and I had physio, but after eight weeks it was no better.
“It was then that I found I had suffered two spinal fractures in my lower back.
“I needed rehab but missed out on all the Olympic preparations.
“All those who missed out watched Great Britain win the bronze medal match against New Zealand in the Olympics.
“There were a lot of tears – tears of happiness that the team had won the bronze and tears from those who had not made it into the final squad.
“It was different for me because I had had plenty of time to come to terms with missing out because of my injury.”
It’s a fresh start, not just for Kirsty but for the England team, who have a new coach in Jason Lee, who used to be in charge of the men.
Despite a number of retirements since last summer and the national team switching back to ‘England’ from ‘Great Britain’, London 2012 stars still make up nearly half of the selected squad.
Kirsty added: “It will be a good mixture of youth and experience for the Investec tournament, and with a new coach it will be a question of finding out about each other.”
Kirsty plays for the Bowdon Hightown team and has recently moved to Bracknell to be near her full-time training base at Bisham.