In July 2018, Ollie Krijnen was playing football at Fraser Park when his temperamental back completely imploded.
“It just went. I’d been in pain for a couple of weeks but thought nothing of it. I was chasing a through ball and just fell over. I was in agony and had to be carried off the field,” Krijnen recalled.
For the next year Krijnen was unable to compete in competitive sprinting - denied the chance to push for the National Junior 100 metres title which he was odds-on to win.
“There was a grieving process. I really struggled with school and was in denial about it for months,” Krijnen admitted.
“The school was really supportive offering me a counsellor and my orthopaedic surgeon is my hero. Basically I had to rest the back and slowly re-strengthen it.”
The restless Krijnen would initially walk for nine minutes and sprint for one minute, increasing the running time as his fitness improved. Additionally core exercises were performed to make the back muscles more “compact.”
“Being out so long was humbling. It helped me mature and appreciate the good things I have. My back is always in the back of my mind, but I’ve learned how to manage things better,” Krijnen reflected.
In September, Krijnen at last resumed competition sprinting and two weeks before this past weekend’s New Zealand Secondary Schools Track and Field Nationals ran a PB of 11.30 in Palmerston North.
“I knew things were going nicely when I ran a PB in Palmerston North. I was worried about a couple of guys at Nationals who I’d beaten in close races, but Palmy gave me a lot of confidence,” Krijnen revealed.
The weather at Newtown Park gave nobody confidence. A swirling wind and heavy track was a great leveller.
“The rain was in our faces and the wind actually changed from a head wind to a cross wind before the start. It was hard to bounce off the track, you had to be careful at the start,” Krijnen said.
Krijnen managed a clean start and building speed in the middle helped him claim national honours in 11.34.
He powered to the finish line in an outside lane, edging Orewa College’s Ethen Lagatule into second and Paraparaumu College’s Ben Lambert into third.
Two other College Sport Regional athletes were in the Junior Boys 100m final, Lambert’s Paraparaumu College teammate Max Tofts who came fifth and Hutt International Boys Schools’ Tyrone Trego who brought home the eight-sprinter field.
“It means a lot to win after everything my coach, family and I have been through. I just want to thank everyone for their support,” Krijnen said.
Krijnen was Silverstream’s first national gold medallist since Fletcher Greaves won the junior 400m title in 2011.
Senior 100m champion Edward Osei-Nketia was seen congratulating Krijnen after his success.
“He’s a real nice guy who has lifted the profile of the sport,” Krijnen enthused.
Krijnen was captain of the Silverstream athletics team that won the Neville Shield against St Pat’s Town, claiming individual victories in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay.
In the summer Krijnen will compete in the Capital and Cook Classics and he’s been selected in a New Zealand relay team that will partake in a series of summer fixtures.
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