Albury sailing export Laura Thomson has a great appreciation of what it means to be an elite athlete.
After relocating to Melbourne at the end of 2017 to take up a scholarship with the Victorian Institute of Sport, Thomson’s season was brought to a standstill.
The 19-year-old was required to undergo knee surgery when an old injury reared its head once more.
A tendon in her right knee needed reattaching and cartilage required repair.
“It initially played up in 2015-2016 and that particular injury prevented me from competing in the last day of the world championships,” Thomson revealed.
“It’s a really awful thing to see your sailing partner go off on the last day when you’re in such a competitive position and have them sailing with someone else you’ve scrambled together overnight.
“Having the surgery and having to go through all the rehab made me really appreciate all the support I have down here in Melbourne.
“It’s a big thing when you’ve moved away from home and you can’t walk or drive because you have a big, chunky brace on your leg.
“You really appreciate all the people who helped get you where you are and you appreciate yourself a bit.
“I feel like I’ve got a lot more respect for my body and what it can do now.”
Thomson and her new sailing partner Laura Harding were in excellent form up until that point, having won the female Victorian state title after only a month together.
“It was great to get in the boat and know things were starting to come together pretty quickly,” she said.
“We got into a bit of a routine and were sailing six days a week and in the VIS gym five days a week trying to get used to the new athlete lifestyle.
“I think the biggest achievement of the year is being able to go through that phase and get back to being fully recovered.
“The year wrapped up on a bit of a high, we went down to Tasmania for the national championships and ended up second on a countback out of all the women’s teams down there.”
Thomson plans to compete overseas this year, with an event in Germany before the under-23 world championships in Norway.
The major goal is to qualify for the open world championships in November.
“Now that we’re broadening our horizons to the international circuit, it’s going to be a challenge, but we’re excited to see what girls our age are doing and take every learning opportunity from some of the more experienced girls,” Thomson said.
Thomson is one of nine nominees for the Norske Skog Young Achiever of the Year, with the winner announced on Friday night.