If the South African shot put champion, Orazio Cremona, considered himself to be a ‘broken man’ during 2015, he wouldn’t have been far off the mark.
Without being aware it, he has been competing with a fractured femur during most of the season.
Cremona’s season didn’t start off too badly when he won the South African title in Stellenbosch with a distance of 20.49 metres, but from then on there was an alarming deterioration in his performances. His worst performance was certainly when he threw 18.64 metres at the World Championships in Beijing.
The Tuks/HPC athlete readily admits that, emotionally, he hit rock bottom after the World Championships.
‘I went through my entire European campaign, as well as the World Championships, competing with a stress fracture. Emotionally it took its toll. I went from being a consistent 20.50 metres shot putter to barely being able to get past 18m. That was when I began to question my abilities and to feel unworthy. I went to dark and deep places in my mind and I think, in a way, I went crazy.
‘It may sound strange if I say that it was actually quite a relief when the doctor diagnosed that I had a stress fracture high up on my right femur. At long last I knew that there was a valid reason for my inability to perform at my best.’
Cremona described his injury as weird.
‘When I was training in the gym I was in slight pain but it was bearable. The real problem started when I started to throw. On a good day I was able to do perhaps 10 throws at best. Then things got so bad that I could not walk and I had to sit down for about 20 minutes for my leg to recover.’
According to Cremona he took a 12-week break from training and only started to train about four weeks ago. ‘I’m still not able to train as I used to but at least it is a start. If nothing unforeseen happens I ought to be in full training by the end of January.’
Cremona hopes to drop about nine kilograms during the next few weeks.
‘I have reached the age when my technique and speed need to come into play and I should not rely only on throwing with brute strength. To be able to do so I need to lose weight. My ideal weight is round about 140kg.’
Asked about his plans for next year, Cremona said his main aim will be to qualify for the Olympic Games in Rio.
‘But with my injury I’m not sure how to go about trying to do so. I was hoping to maybe start competing at the end of January in an effort to qualify for the World Indoor Championships (17-20 March in Portland, US). However, I don’t want to start throwing if I’m not in good shape, so all will depend on how fast I recover.’
When he finished seventh at the Indoor World Championships and fourth at the Commonwealth Games in 2014, Cremona proved that he has what it takes to compete against the best. He was also the African champion.
One of Cremona’s ultimate goals is to break through to 21 metres. His best distance at the moment is 20.63m, which means that he now ties with Burger Lambrechts as South Africa’s second-best shot put athlete ever. Only Janus Roberts (21.97m) has achieved a better distance.
Picture of Cremona, courtesy of Reg Caldecott