Abernethy close to comeback from freak injury

Rower Bryce Abernethy is on the way back after a freak thumb injury. Photo: Peter McIntosh
Rower Bryce Abernethy is on the way back after a freak thumb injury. Photo: Peter McIntosh
A freak hand injury slowed Bryce Abernethy, but it has not stopped him.

It has been nearly two years since the 24-year-old rowed competitively.

One of the region’s most promising competitors, he had spent time in both the national set-up and the southern regional performance centre.

The past 22 months have left him to throw himself into coaching, while also studying and working.

However, he has not given up on competing.

Alongside coaching his John McGlashan College boys, he will race in a senior quadruple crew in this weekend’s Otago championships at Lake Ruataniwha.It will allow him to continue a comeback trail, targetting the South Island championships in January as a serious return.

Indeed it was terrible luck that left him in that position.

"I was chucking a bike rack of the tow bar of my car," he said.

"I was tightening up a T-screw and my thumb dislocated.

"When it dislocated it snapped the tendons that go up the side of my thumb and tore away the muscle in my palm as well.

"So I had to get reconstructive surgery in my left hand to get it all put back together."

Having initially decided to do some coaching to help out, he quickly took over as John McGlashan’s head coach when the previous coach moved on.

Last season was his first in that role and he had enjoyed it, having a "good group of boys" who worked hard and got on well.

It still involved being up at 5am  six days a week, as also he went and picked up the hostel boys and took them to  training.

He also runs a winter development programme for all Dunedin schools, as well as training a group keen to trial for the RPC.

Alongside that, he runs a strength and conditioning programme for the John McGlashan team.

Around that he has fitted in a post-graduate diploma in physical education, as well as a masters of applied science which he finished last week.

He has also worked close to full-time — last year in a cafe and this year for a carpet-laying business.

It is a lot to take on, but he has made it work.

Despite all that, he does miss rowing himself — although admits there are parts of coaching he prefers.

"I’d say I definitely enjoy the trainings as a coach more.

"But when I’m at the regatta, I’m just real hungry to be out on the water as I watch the boys come down.

"So I probably prefer the regattas as a rower and the trainings as a coach."

He is not ruling out attempting to return to the elite level either.

However, if he does it would be as a heavyweight, now realising the lifestyle of a lightweight is not a healthy one.

It is not a case of just slipping back in, although he does not mind that.

"It’s definitely taking a bit of an adjustment period.

"It’s a bit sad seeing the numbers popping up on the rowing machine at the moment.

"But it’s all part of it and I don’t mind the work I have in front of me because it’s quite exciting I can do it without being in too much pain."

The Otago championships begin at 7.30am today and are scheduled to conclude about 3pm tomorrow.

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