Pieter Heemeryck, the Belgian who in recent years has put in many wonderful performances during Challenge Family races around the world and did win the Challenge Family World Bonus in 2019, had an unpleasant period in recent months. An injury prevented more good performances, actually caused disappointing results, but now Heemeryck is back on the right track. “I’m training again completely pain-free and looking forward to the next challenges,” he said.
The setback began when Heemeryck crashed shortly after Challenge Daytona last December. “There was an imbalance in my body, which caused me a lot of pain during training and in my daily life. Against my better judgement I started in several races in April, while I was not pain free and therefore did not have the right form. In retrospect that was a very stupid choice, but because in that period a lot was uncertain because of COVID-19, for example when there would be other races, I made the choice to race.”
But, that choice made for a difficult period for Heemeryck. “The accumulation of disappointments. It became extra heavy because there was also no immediate solution to the problems. It was very difficult for me that I could not give anything back to my sponsors, who allow me the chance to practice my hobby as a profession, and of course to my family, who sacrifice a lot of time when I do all my training. Now I would like to show quickly that I am back to my old self. With that motivation I try to get ready every day.”
It’s also a piece of mind-set, Heemeryck urges other athletes. “For example, I try to think back to the period before corona, where everything went the way I wanted. Good races with occasional some setbacks, but the good results that prevailed. Difficult periods are part and parcel of elite sport and it is now up to me to show I can come back.”
In case of aches and pains, Heemeryck advises other athletes to seek help from experts as soon as possible. “After Daytona, I thought everything would be fine and didn’t go to a hospital for x-rays. Whereas, if I had done that earlier, they could have discovered what the problem was much quicker and I might have been able to get back in shape sooner. Seeking help in time is a must and I can only recommend it. And above all, be patient: good things take time.”