Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Hernia surgery for Van den Hoogenband

Last Wednesday (May 4th) Pieter van den Hoogenband underwent surgery in The Hague for a hernia (slipped disk in his back). This hernia was the main reason for his back problems, which he suffered for several months. Whether or not he will compete at the World Championships is not an issue yet. But he will only go to Montreal if he is in good shape.

"Tomorrow the stitches are removed and I hope to resume training later this week. Then we’ll know where I stand. I will decide at the very last moment if I will compete at the World Championships. I want to go for the gold and don’t consider it a free holiday in Canada."

VDH had been suffering back pains for quite some time now. "As a top athlete you always suffer from aches here and there, but last March at the Flemish Championships in Antwerp it started to really bother me. At first I thought my back would benefit by weight lifting to strengthen my muscles, but the pain kept getting worse. Late March I even had to cancel the Dutch Open Swim Cup in Eindhoven.''

VDH then tried to control his back pain by tapering, but the pain still kept getting worse. He decided not to go on training camp in Cyprus with his team mates of NZE and went to the doctor’s instead. "I asked several physicians for advice. It soon became clear to me that an operation was inevitable. Last Tuesday I was examined by neurosurgeon Peul, who operated on me the very next day.''

To his relief the operation was a great success. "When the stitches are removed, I will go back into the pool. Whether or not I will go to the World Championships is not certain yet. It will become clear in the weeks to come. I will hold off that decision till the very last minute."

After defending his Olympic title at the 100m freestyle event last year in Athens, VDH aimed to break his own world record at the World Championships, which is 0.47.84 since he broke it in Sydney in 2000. This doesn’t seem realistic any more after his hernia operation. If all goes well, VDH will compete at the 100m and 200m freestyle events and the 4x100m and 4x200m relays.

Follow this link to watch an interview with VDH about this: Operation for Van den Hoogenband (click on the camera icon in the small right pane next to the article)


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