New Zealand pole vaulter Eliza McCartney has revealed she may suffer from a genetic disorder that could be central to the string of injuries that has plagued her over the last three years.
McCartney took to social media to open up about the challenges she has faced this year - both physically and mentally - and admitted at times it has been difficult to cope.
"After pulling out of World Champs I was back to injury-free training for the first time since August 2018," McCartney wrote.
"But that ended abruptly one vault session when I got a sudden, intense pain in my Achilles. I was hoping it would just be a short flare of my reoccurring tendinitis, but instead of improving, my Achilles completely deteriorated.
"Numerous scans, in and out of a moon boot, not able to walk, some days unable to even put any weight through that foot, and all the while being completely unclear on why I had such an atypical Achilles tendinitis."
However, the 22-year-old also revealed a possible diagnosis has been found.
"We’ve only just come across a potential cause, which possibly has been present in some or all of the injuries I’ve had in the past 3 years.
"We think I might have a genetic disorder that causes autoimmune inflammation, particularly affecting tendons.
"Essentially this means over time microtrauma causes my immune system to go into overdrive and set off an inflammatory process in the affected area."
Since her stunning bronze medal win at the Rio Olympics in 2016, McCartney has struggled with numerous injuries but she's also achieved some other milestones.
Last year alone, the pole vaulter broke her own national record and claimed silver at the Commonwealth Games before a heel injury ruled her out of competing at the 2018 Diamond League finals.
McCartney said the new diagnosis is a mix of good and bad news but her focus remains on making a big comeback next year.
"I’ve started the medication for this condition and I’m finally feeling my positive self again.
"I might not be ready to compete over the New Zealand summer, but all going well I’ll be fit to qualify and build into Tokyo.
"It’s going to be far from the ideal build up to an Olympics but after a year off I’m bloody ready for the challenge."