Sport / Columnists

Tamlyn Patterson
3 minute read
18 Aug 2017
11:51 am

Still plenty of life in these old dogs yet

Tamlyn Patterson

Until one has been confronted with severe injury or sickness, it’s impossible to fully comprehend how extremely difficult the comeback slash recovery process is.

Tamlyn Patterson

Having never been sick or injured – and by that, I mean not having spent even a few hours in hospital let alone a night, I had no idea how hard it is to bounce back comfortably seated on the fence. But earlier this month it hit home, really, really close to home.

My 11-year-old Labrador suddenly fell critically ill with cholangiohepatitis, and as a result, needed to be on a drip for seven days, force fed and pumped with all sorts of antibiotics, tonics and vitamins. She took a turn for the worst two weeks ago, and between the vet and my mother, they had to make a call.

Of course, all this happened, without me knowing a thing until I arrived home for the weekend. It was on Friday afternoon when the vet said to me: “Angelina has turned the corner,” but her ultimate recovery depends on her and the energy required in fighting the vicious infection which had totally ravaged her body. I was also instructed to be by her side as much as possible and that’s exactly what I did, popping in at the KFC down the road once a day in a bid to get her to eat.

Long story short, the drip was finally removed and now we just need to get the old girl walking again. But until then, she’s more than happy to lie in the lap of luxury, snug as a bug, enjoying handfed meals laced with biltong and Streetwise Twos, nine grand later.

What all this has to do with sport, I’m not entirely sure, but sometimes the weirdest parallels come to mind. A figure in Formula One, once touted for greatness, has since resurfaced after successfully completing a post-Hungarian Grand Prix test comprising 142 laps for Renault six years after his livelihood was blown away.

Polish driver Robert Kubica has got tongues wagging and his “quite impressive performance,” as described by fellow Renault driver Nico Hulkenberg, has given his return to the sport a major boost. He clocked the fourth fastest time of the day in Budapest less than 24 hours after Sebastian Vettel had claimed his fourth victory of the season.

After making his debut at the 2006 Hungary GP finishing seventh, before being disqualified for an underweight car, Kubica went on to finish third in only his third race at the Italian GP and within five years, the 2008 Canadian GP winner was being compared to Lewis Hamilton.

As quickly as Kubica made his mark, so too was his promising career brought to a halt, when he sustained severe injuries during a club rally in 2011. Doctors were forced to amputate segments of his right forearm during surgery lasting seven hours and along with adapting to technological advancements in F1 cars – back then compared to now – there is also concern surrounding the need for additional mechanisms that would aid the Pole in shifting gears while in a single-seater.

However, Renault trackside operations director Alan Permane believes this won’t be an issue, requiring only a small modification. Kubica himself predicted that he’d come back a better driver and a stronger person, but remains realistic even with his chances of a 2018 return pinned at between 80 and 90%.

If you ever thought a comparison between a darling of a Labrador and a seasoned F1 driver was impossible, think again. Dogged determination really is a wonderful thing.