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Nicola White: I’m not frightened by my concussion injury anymore

Nicola White celebrates with her GB team-mates 

The Hockey Paper Exclusive

Nicola White, the Rio gold medal-winning Olympian, says she is doing all she can to still make selection for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

White, 32, has been out of action following a collision on the side of her head with an Irish player during a Commonwealth Games warm-up match in 2018. The two-time Olympic medallist has since been recovering from a debilitating, long-term concussion.

In a bid to find the right medication to finally ward off post-concussion symptoms, White recently revealed that she had Botox injections across her scalp and forehead in an attempt to stave off the painful migraines which have held her back in her recovery.

But in a hugely positive start to 2020, White believes that she is now on the right path after the chronic symptoms which have blighted the last two years of her career.

“I am trying to stay positive and it has been a painful journey but it has been a good start to the New Year,” she said. “If I can make a full recovery in the next few months I can pick up the phone to the GB programme and see where we are. It is the hope that is keeping me going.

“I haven’t spoken a lot about this and it’s about getting myself in the right place. It has taken me by surprise over how complex it has all been, while physically it has been a battle.”

White was recently removed from the GB programme, a decision which left her “hugely disappointed”, but her current mindset is one of optimism.

“I’m still trying to make it back and get myself fit and well. It is a big ask,” she noted. “It wasn’t necessarily my choice as I was taken off the programme and it does present a big challenge. But I’m on new medication and Botox and I’m hoping it is all positive.”

White has documented previously the isolating pain she had experienced following her on-field accident playing for England, the aftermath of which included constant dizziness and being unable to handle daylight.

She said: “In the early days it was so debilitating and you can’t function as a healthy person. It can get you down. For the brain to be injured to that level I have to understand it to accept it.

“I’ve fallen into a trap of being disheartened as it’s been so slow, but it’s now positive for me and it’s easy to see progress. I know I have to look after myself to make sure I get well. I’m not frightened by the injury now. Before I was unsure and anxious and I used to beat myself up about it.”

She admitted to holding a stick and being able to continue her training, as well as undertaking some coaching sessions.

“When I was coaching I couldn’t divide a group into numbers as I couldn’t think on my feet,” she said.

“It has taken time to get going but it has all flooded back and I can now explain how to push a ball! I’m just going to keep going until the door is definitely closed.”

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