“Expect the worst pain imaginable. It will be less”

When I was a young boy I heard a saying that stuck with me. Its purpose was to train the listener to expect agony when facing an inevitable pain-inducing situation, so that once the pain hit, the distress would be dampened. It went like this: “Expect the worst pain imaginable. It will be less.” Tell that to 22 year old American athlete Sam Cerio…


The true extent of her injuries is not yet clear — The Sun has diagnosed a double-leg “snap,” although it wouldn’t be the first time that they’ve fabricated a headline — but what is obvious is that this poor girl has suffered one of the most visceral and visibly sickening sports injuries that I hope to ever see.

She announced her retirement from gymnastics shortly after leaving the mat and coming round from the intoxication of pain-controlling substances. There’s nothing worse than coming to that instant, crushing realization that your career is over due to injury. And I speak from experience.

But as you lie broken on your sporting battlefield — with your physical and emotional sensations surging — there is also a strange undercurrent of chilling clarity. Amid the chaos there is also a calm and certain understanding that your life has just been violently split into two identifiable parts; pre and post injury.

She and I are not the first to suffer this fate, and we won’t be the last.

The one solace I took from the excruciating immediate pain of tearing my ACL, MCL and both lateral and medial menisci is that I’m convinced that I will never feel another pain like it. I won’t have to “expect the worst pain imaginable” as I hope to have already experienced the highest level I will hit in my lifetime. No doubt Sam Cerio feels the same too.

The silver lining is that whatever follows will feel like a mere bee-sting. If only we’d been blessed with the genetic mutation of 71 year old Briton, Jo Cameron…