Ice dancer Penny Coomes aims for 2018 Winter Olympics after injury

By David McDaidBBC Olympic sports reporter
World Figure Skating Championships
Date: 29 March - 2 April Venue: Hartwall Arena, Helsinki, Finland
Coverage: Live coverage on BBC Red Button and online

After shattering her kneecap in training, figure skater Penny Coomes was told she would never compete again.

Nine months and two operations later she is now targeting a third Winter Olympics with partner Nick Buckland.

"I fell and smashed my kneecap into eight pieces and a lot of people said it was a career-ending injury," ice dancer Coomes told BBC Sport.

"Now I'm just filled with hope that my dream is within reach. I'm going to get there and I feel I've earned it."

It was during a routine lift at their training base in Michigan in June that Coomes suffered the injury - just three months after they had enjoyed their best ever result at the 2016 World Figure Skating Championships in Boston.

"One minute we were laughing and joking; the next I was on the floor screaming in agony," remembered Coomes.

The diminutive 27 year-old was justified in asking herself 'why me again?'. She and Buckland have had their fair share of injury and illness problems. Concussions, broken noses, and heart problems are just some of the issues they've had to deal with over the last few years.

Coomes hopes to 'come back with a bang'.
Coomes hopes to 'come back with a bang'.

Within a few days of her knee injury Coomes was on a flight back to the UK for surgery to wire her kneecap back together.

After four months of convalescence and rehabilitation, Coomes and Buckland were back on the ice but, although she was able to train, she was still in pain afterwards.

"As I picked up my training to get ready for the European Championships this year I started to be in more pain," she said.

"When I came off the ice I could hardly walk," she said. "I wasn't sleeping for seven months as I had this deep ache in my knee.

"I was miserable and for a long time I sort of lost myself and fell out of love with ice skating and couldn't even talk about it."

The wires that were keeping her kneecap together were irritating her patella tendon and had to be removed in a second operation in January.

"When I woke up afterwards I cried because I didn't have any pain anymore," said Coomes.

Coomes had to have her kneecap wired back together
Coomes had to have her kneecap wired back together

There were more tears of a different nature on 15 March when she returned to the ice for the first time since her second surgery.

"I just feel like I've got my legs back. I feel so happy now," she said.

"A lot of people had written me off and I wasn't having any of that.

"I've fallen in love with skating again and I've taken from this injury that I am a strong person.

"I've worked so hard to achieve my dream and I feel a I can do anything in life now.

"I've still got a lot of work to do but I think Nick and I will come back with a bang."

This week's World Championships may have come too soon for Coomes and Buckland but they will have the chance to qualify for the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in an event in Oberstdorf, Germany, in September.

Hoping to take their chance this week for Great Britain in Helsinki are Zoe Jones and Christopher Boyadji in the pairs event and Lilah Fear and Lewis Gibson in the ice dance.

In the men's singles, Graham Newberry and Phillip Harris will take to the ice, while Natasha McKay and Karly Robertson will compete on the women's side.

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