Dartanyon Crockett, Pushing Past Injury To Fulfill Paralympic Dreams

By Jennifer Garcia | June 06, 2012, 2:07 a.m. (ET)

Team USA’s Dartanyon Crockett felt the pop, then the searing pain.

In a fleeting moment, years of sacrifice and relentless training for that ultimate competition and podium at the 2012 Summer Paralympics, hung in the balance.

"Definitely, my biggest concern coming into the Paralympics is an injury," says Crockett. "With my knee hurt, I didn't know what to think."

The threat of injury is a constant presence at this elite level of training and competition. Crockett was at an international judo camp in Miami doing newaza (ground fighting) almost a month ago when he bridged to escape a pin. The pain that burst from his knee stopped him instantly. A trainer rushed to his side, the inflammation was immediately visible. An MRI revealed a grade 2 tear of the MCL and bruising on his bone. It wasn't until recently that a subsequent MRI confirmed that Crockett could soon return to a full regimen of training in plenty of time to fight full-throttle at the Paralympics.

For many elite sports, injuries are par for the course but anathema during the build up to a singular event like the Olympics or Paralympics. A study of athletes competing in the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics found nearly 100 injuries per thousand athletes. Nearly half of those injuries "were expected to prevent the athlete from participating in competition or training." The study appeared in the American Journal of Sports Medicine.

Luckily for Crockett, his injuries are expected to fully heal within the next few weeks, well in advance of the London Games. Ed Liddie, USA Judo's Director of High Performance and mentor to Crockett, said that the threat of any injury cannot adequately be underscored for these elite athletes. Says Liddie, "For Dartanyon, rest is necessary. He has to step back from the mat for a little bit and modify his training."

Crockett is now upbeat about his immediate future. With less than 55 days to opening ceremonies, he is eager to ramp up the training.

"I can't wait to get back to 100 percent training," says Crockett. "I want to fight to the best of my ability and leave it all on the mat."

Follow Dartanyon Crockett on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/#!/DartanyonCrockettFanPage.