Simon Mantell is an England and Team GB Hockey player aiming for his second Olympic Games. A broken metatarsal in a test event recently threw his chances into doubt, and now he faces a race against time to be fit.
Sportsvibe caught up with the forward to talk rehab, Olympic chances and TFL.
Hi Simon, how's rehab on the foot going?
Rehab is going well on the foot. I'm five weeks post-operation and getting to the stage when I can be running around again. I've now broken metatarsals in both feet, so I've got a pin in each foot.
Now we understand that you're helping TFL to inform people on how to get around London easier during the Olympic Games?
I've teamed up with TFL to make a short film about getting people to plan ahead of the games for their travel. It's going to be a busy time for the transport network. For us as athletes it's important to have friends and family and Team GB support there watching. We've got a Twitter chat on Friday to answer people's questions and prepare them for the games.
We've had a look at the film, and it shows you cycling. Surely that's not going to help your broken foot?
[Laughs] the video was before the injury. I certainly wouldn't be cycling now.
What were your thoughts when you realised that you'd broken your foot?
Obviously when it happened I'd recognised the feeling of having a broken metatarsal from before. It was pretty painful at the time, but you still think and hope its not going to be too bad. Initially it was just the shock of it. It doesn't really settle in for a while, but once you get an idea of how long you will be out, you start to plan ahead and think about your rehab and getting back fit again.
When you found out how long it would take to recover from, did that help put it in perspective and give you hope that you could still make the Olympics?
That's exactly it. You understand that it does make it a lot harder for you and timing-wise it's not brilliant. At the same time it's not a complete disaster. If it happened now or in the last week or two then there would be no chance of me being able to compete. But luckily there is just about enough time for me to rehab and get fit, and I've just got to control what's in front of me.
Is it still pretty touch and go as to whether you will be fit in time?
I think there is always uncertainties. I think I will definitely be fit at the start of the games, it's whether or not that's enough. Obviously selection is going on over the next few weeks, so we have to wait and see what happens and even if i'm not selected the I will be still trying to get fit to make sure I'm injury cover for anyone else, incase there are other injuries, which do happen.
Has [Great Britain head coach] Jason Lee give you any indication of your chances of selection?
We've had conversations, but I think he's keeping his cards relatively close to his chest because he has to for everyone really. We're being realistic in terms of my chances of getting back fit and I guess we've just got to wait and see when the team gets selected. I've still got a chance and I'm just working hard to make sure I'm fit as soon as possible.
If you don't make it, will you cheering on the rest of the lads and in particular your brother, who still has a chance of making it?
Of course. I want Rich to be competing and I'll be supporting him to be selected as well. It's going to be tough and think it reflects just how strong the squad is. Everyone is competing for places regardless who you are within the squad. People are going to miss out, but at the same time people are going to have to work for each other to make sure we have the best chance of doing well.
As you say, Great Britain have such a strong squad, with a great mix of youth and experience. How important is that?
There are obviously players in the squad who stand out like Ashley [Jackson] and Barry [Middleton]. When people like that are playing well it definitely boosts the squad. Ash has been playing some great hockey recently and that definitely helps. The squad as a whole is starting to find some form and we didn't necessarily play good hockey out in Malaysia recently and didn't necessarily have the best results, but we'll be looking to peak this summer.
How much did the performances in Malaysia show the level where Team GB are at the moment?
I think we've got to be realistic about the performances out in Malaysia. They were good, but the conditions are very tough out there and we didn't want to change the way we play to suit that. We want to keep playing the way we're already playing, and will want to play in the summer, matching that intensity.
Did the tournament give anything away about the other teams you'll be facing?
There's no question that all countries are aiming to peak for the summer and to peak for the Olympics. There's going to be tough competition, and it's not just from the likes of Australia, Germany and Holland, but also teams like New Zealand and Argentina are looking good as well. I think it's no surprise that they look strong and I think that our performances against them shows that we've still got more to add.
How important was it to play Argentina, considering they are Great Britain's opening Olympic fixture, and how much will defeat spur you on to rectify that result?
We hadn't played Argentina for quite a few years, so it was quite good to have a competitive game against them so close to the Olympics. It definitely spurs you on to make sure that we're fully prepared and don't take any team for granted. There's only twelve teams at the Olympics and each one is incredibly strong. There's no easy games and we know that from Beijing where we ended up drawing to Canada, who we thought we should have beaten quite easily. You learn from previous experiences.
You've got a pretty tough group as it is, so you'll have to draw on all of your experiences?
Exactly. With only twelve teams it's strong opposition all the way down. Our group is quite tough, but we're ranked fourth, so we're going to be with the top ranked team in Australia, who we've had some pretty good results against over the last couple of years. It's a strong group without question with Spain in there as well, but we're happy with where we are.
With the Olympic Games just weeks away, do you dare to dream about competing?
It's difficult not to. For me the challenge is a little bit different because it's just focusing on getting back fit. I've almost got to put it out of my mind the end goal, and just focus on the here and now.
Check out Simon Mantell's video with TFL below: