Etheridge working on Narrabeen miracle

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

While her teammates are preparing for a World Series title tilt, Women’s Sevens Gemma Etheridge is working on a miracle of her own in Narrabeen.

Etheridge’s Olympic dream looked over when she ruptured her anterior cruciate ligament for the third time earlier this year but is already eyeing an Olympic return.

The veteran moved from Toowoomba to Narrabeen to pursue an Olympics spot and when the option came to accelerate her recovery with LARS surgery, she said it was a “no brainer”.

“When I did it I thought the worst,” she said.

“I’ve had two others so I knew what they were about and I knew how long they took to come back form so the option of the LARS was my only chance to get to the Olympics.

“I moved down here to try and get there so it was really a no-brainer once that option was thrown about there.

“It was my one chance and it was the chance I took.”

Etheridge is no stranger to rehab but this is her first time doing a LARS reconstruction, which has put her in different territory.

“It’s definitely exciting but also scary,” she said.

“It’s one week after surgery and they’ve got you doing things and you’re thinking, I‘m I allowed to do this?’ but it’s definitely exciting .

“I’m in good hands so I know I’ll get there.”

The Women's Sevens are hoping for more success in France, and ultimately, Rio. Photo: Getty ImagesEtheridge hopes to be back in training in the next month, working towards full contact beyond that, putting her well in the frame for a Rio berth.

Australia Sevens coach Tim Walsh said Etheridge was an inspiration to the team.

“She probably made a choice to give up the most (moving down) so she’s not going to leave any stone unturned or any possibility.

“She’s all in and she certainly shows that in every aspect of her everyday life.

“She’s inspiring and we want to see her succeed but it’s the performance of the team that always comes first.”

Sevens co-captain Sharni Williams said Etheridge had the support of all of her teammates as she works towards a return.

“She’s a fighter, that girl puts in a lot of hard yards, she does everything she possibly can to get back out on that field,” she said.

“This is going to be an amazing story, amazing flight and all us girls are in there behind her to do whatever possible.

“She needs a physio spot it’s get in there and get it done because we want [her] out there on that field with us .yes, we’re going to France but in the long run [she] needs to be with us.

“You see her in here working hard doing her little extras but when she goes home she’s full on doing it there as well.

“There’s no rest for here at the moment so...fingers crossed she’ll be on that plane.”