When we got on the blower to surf ironman Matt Poole last week to discover he’d broken his leg and torn a heap of ligaments in five-foot Mentawais swell, a collective shudder went through the office.
And when he touched based yesterday post his MRI and ultrasounds with news of an impending operation to repair not one but two broken and displaced bones, torn ligaments and his ankle, we winced in pain. And immediate thoughts went to the Molokai2Oahu paddleboard championships in late July, where Pooley was planning on defending his prone title.
We considered not writing a story at all. Keeping it out of the spotlight. But then a realization came over us - if anyone can overcome an injury to compete, it’s Pooley.
This is the same dude who contested a race for some 8km on a broken leg without even knowing it. The same dude who contested his first 50km Hawaiian channel crossing with a busted leg and bad back. And still dominated. The very guy who has overcome back injuries one day to win a Nutri-Grain Surf Ironman race the next.
For while his body may not be made of iron, his will is. And if there’s a way, Pooley will find it.
He’s the ultimate competitor and can’t stand to stand still. Quite literally. So as he recovers from the surgery in coming weeks and has to keep weight off his leg, chances are he’ll find some other sport to dominate - table tennis, pool or darts. Apparently chess is considered a sport, too?
“I’m pretty bummed but the good news is, there’s no blood clotting,” says a struggling-to-be-jovial Pooley. “I had a brutal three days of travelling after the injury trying to get home to the doctors. So it’s been rough.
“The foot was twice its normal size after about 10 minutes of the injury. I just did a turn and came down with all my weight on the front foot. Just one of those things.”
So while an eight-week recovery window seems slim given the damage, Pooley has one of the country’s top sports physicians on his side in Sydney Swans and South Sydney medic Dr Nathan Gibbs.
And like he’s proved too many times before, Pooley is an expert at overcoming injury and pain and returning to his competitive best. If anyone can do it. Pooley can.
And if you weren’t already feeling for the poor lad, spare a thought for him next weekend when Channel Nine’s Deep Water series - which he contested - airs for the first time on May 23.