Injury forces deferral of triathlon world championship goal for Don McCormick

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His training was going really well and then, suddenly, it wasn’t.

Local triathlete and septuagenarian, Don McCormick, was at a TriMuskoka training session early on the morning of August 1. He was preparing to head to the world triathlon championships, being held this weekend in Lausanne, Switzerland.

He had completed several sessions of a workout, all at race pace, on the track at Conroy Park with the aim of  increasing his speed. Next up was four 200m runs. “I was feeling pretty good so I decided I’d pick up the pace,” he recalls. “I probably went about five strides and my left hamstring blew up and I went down like a ton of bricks.” In addition to the hamstring injury—he learned later that he had “completely severed all three of his hamstring muscles,” he says—he also hurt his shoulder in the fall. “As a result, I was finished for the season for triathlon and that meant I had to pull out of the world championships.”

McCormick told Doppler earlier this year that he’d really like to have a podium finish at the world championships, a goal that he was striving for in Lausanne this year. He’ll still have a chance, though—when race organizers learned of his injury, they gave him a deferral to next year’s world championships.

As a condition of his world championships application, McCormick took on a fundraising project to raise $2,000 for Triathlon Canada’s junior development program, which provides triathlon training opportunities for youth aged 16-19. He met his goal and wants everyone to know that those funds have already been donated to the organization.

“I’ve had wonderful support from the community,” he says.

He also wants to give a shout out to the people he was training with—two of them physicians—who stayed with him and reassured him until help arrived, as well as all of the medical staff he has encountered since. “It was so expert and so timely, right from the EMS guys that took me from [the track to the hospital]  through to the emergency doctor that treated me there, and then Reactivate, Rich Trenholm’s sports medicine clinic, and through to getting MRIs in Orillia and getting in immediately to see sports medicine doctors at the Western University sports medicine clinic. It’s just been terrific,” he says.

And he’s well on the road to recovery. His physiotherapist, Carly Litchfield, told him he’s way ahead of where she expected him to be. He’s been back in the pool this week and says his shoulder is holding up well, and he’s back in the gym as well. He’s thankful that his hamstring injury doesn’t require surgery and although he’s been told he’ll have some losses—”my strength will probably only recover to about 70 per cent and I’ll have some flexibility losses”—the doctor told him he might not notice a difference.

And that means he’ll be able to continue to play hockey and continue to do triathlon.

“That’s great news,” he says. “In the month that I couldn’t do anything, I realized I spend a lot of my days training and trying to stay fit and healthy and I was at a loss what to do with that time. I really missed it.”

Also read Athlete of the week: Don McCormick

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5 Comments

  1. Karen Wehrstein on

    Don, you are a total inspiration.
    .
    I’m so sorry this injury happened, but your super-positive attitude about it and how well it’s healing adds yet another layer to the inspiration you radiate, and shows even more clearly how extraordinary a person you are.
    .
    Here’s to hitting the podium in 2020. Smart money says you will!
    .
    Big hugs!

  2. J. R. Bruce Cassie on

    Don, you are and have been an inspiration to all of us. It still amazes me that someone SO OLD can skate and check and run as fast as you do. You make sport fun and your leadership on the ice and at the track means a great deal to the rest of us. Every community needs people like Don McCormick. As for the “So Old” comment, no apologies since I’m right behind you.

    • Don, so sorry to hear about your injury, must have been painful at the time. Could you please put together a little book on how to train and get in shape for us “So Old” folks. Hopefully we will see you at the Downs sometime soon.

  3. David Mallette on

    Don,
    Sorry to hear of your injury! You are the most dedicated 70+ athlete I know.

    You are an inspiration and I look forward to seeing you on the ice.

    David Mallette

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