Tokyo Olympics 2020: Sailor Erica Dawson confirmed for Games after miraculous injury-recovery

Kiwi sailor Erica Dawson has made a miraculous recovery from a broken leg in time to compete at the Tokyo Olympics, keeping herself and teammate Micah Wilkinson’s Games dream alive.

Dawson and Wilkinson, who had been working alongside the Australian team in the build up to the Games, were training on their Nacra 17 catamaran in Queensland in June when Dawson fell off the boat, hit the rudder and broke the fibula in her left leg.

With just five weeks before their event at the Games got underway, the odds were against Dawson being fit enough to take part in a sport that demands agility and lower-body strength.

However, this week saw Dawson return to the water with Wilkinson to test her broken leg, and she was able to successfully complete the training session.

“I think the fleet was pretty surprised to see us on the water three-and-a-half weeks after breaking my leg,” Dawson said before Wilkinson added: “You could see the jaws dropping under the boom as she walked into the boat park to go sailing.”

“I guess what I know is that the bone is healed and anything I do isn’t going to damage it,” Dawson continued. “Yes, it’s going to be sore but a lot of it is mental and that’s what I’m working on at the moment.

“Every day my leg improves so much. A week ago I was still on crutches and being wheeled through the airport. A week from now it will be heaps better.”

Although the pair will be competing in their first Games, they have displayed some promising form of late, finishing seventh at the 2020 world championships and then second at a recent training regatta in Spain that featured most of the Olympic fleet.

Dawson is in the midst of a successful sporting year, having also competed as part of New Zealand’s debut campaign in SailGP.

Earlier this year, Dawson said joining the SailGP team provided her and crew mate Liv Mackay an opportunity to be someone young women can look up to in the sport.

“It’s really great for younger girls to see other females in the highest level of our sport so that they believe they can do the same,” she said.

“It’s an important step for this sport to be taking to make it more gender-equal and is sending a really cool message.

“For us to be on equal playing fields means these girls will get the chance to upskill, which could help them meet the requirements to be on the Cup team, so it’s definitely a good step in the right direction.”

Now cleared to make her way to Tokyo, Dawson can showcase those skills on the world’s biggest stage.

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