Knockeddown, but not out
Fifteen-year-old athlete Zion Trigger Faitele didn’t know he had a concussion until he got up to pray at school and collapsed.
The Titahi Bay Amateur Athletics Club athlete took a knee to the head during a basketball training session in November and has been unable to get back to the sport he loves.
But in the meantime he is gaining top honours in his other passion - athletics.
At the North Island Colgate Games last weekend, Faitele achieved a 15m throw in shot put and won the Nick Willis Scholarship.
Awarded for the first time in 2013, the scholarship recipients are those who have proven to be outstanding.
They receive a contribution towards sports gear, coaching, travel or other resources to help them towards their athletics goals.
However, the Scots College student counts himself lucky to have competed at all.
In November he thought he was fine on the night he got the knock to the head.
‘‘It really hurt but I didn’t get knocked out,’’ Faitele said. Instead he ‘‘just walked home with a sore head’’.
But things did not improve and after he collapsed at school the next day he went to the doctor and was eventually referred to the ABI Rehabilitation Concussion Clinic in Wellington.
Rehab was ‘‘not fun’’, Faitele said.
‘‘You have to watch a bunch of trainings and rest a lot’’.
Faitele’s rehab included eye- exercises, non-cardio work outs, and rest between athletics competition days.
While cleared to compete in athletics, he will not be able to return to basketball until February, at the earliest, because it is a contact sport.
Mum Michelle Siou said the experience made her aware of the difficulty recognising a concussion.
Even after he sat his exams at school she found out he was ’’only seeing about one word on the page’’ and continued to get headaches, she said.
‘‘We just thought after a couple of weeks of it, he’ll be back into it.
‘‘This year obviously he was just happy he could compete.
‘‘It has been a long road to recovery.’’
His throwing coach Shaka Sola said Faitele combined natural talent with the right attitude and was on the path to becoming one of New Zealand’s top throwers.
‘‘I have seen him grow really fast, he is a quick thinker, he enjoys being fit and enjoys training,’’ he said.
Although it could be frustrating for any athlete to have to take injury time out, Faitele had demonstrated good mental strength to push through, Sola said.