Here's a nice interview that Surfemme Magazine did with our surfer Leticia Canales about her come back after a knee injury. Check it out to know more about how she felt about being injured and also her goals for the future! As the real article is in Spanish, we’ve taken the liberty to translate it to English for all you non-Spanish speakers.
Leticia Canales is back after recovering from a knee injury. Considering that she currently is at about 20% of her surfing capabilities, we are confident that through her motivation, effort and passion for surfing and competitions, she will soon be at 120%. China is a first step, the next one: the European Championship.
Leticia, what happened to you? How did you get hurt?
It may be a coincidence, but all knee injuries I had happened on a 14th and this was now the third one and took place on August 14th, 2014. I was surfing, I heard a crack and I thought, "Well, it's over." We went to the doctor and he said it was a sprain but I could not straighten my leg.
I went to physio for a month and a half, and even then I couldn’t stretch the leg; the doctors who treated me were worried about the diagnosis and decided to open the knee after all kinds of tests that weren’t working.
When opening they found that I had a torn meniscus from which came a "thread" that wouldn’t let me straighten the knee. They also realized my knee was really worn out.
They finally operated on me on October 20th and I then began physio until the 16th of December (2014). Now I’m “free”, but that doesn’t mean it’s cured. The doctors told me that the surfing will come back gradually and so that's what I’m doing, gradually getting back into it.
Do you think that the knee injury was the result of intensive training and high-level competition?
I don’t think so, if the injury had been made while doing physical training itself then perhaps we could blame the excessive training but the truth is that I was fine, I would say at the best level I have ever been.
I remember after the Sopela Championships, I felt really bad not to win and so the week after I surfed really bad. Just the day of the accident I surfed very well again with my coach and he said "Leti’s finally back!" And it happened in the third wave... it can happen to any surfer.
You were good and you had a good season, how have you been psychologically relative to surgery?
When I got hurt, I knew I would be absent for two months and my chances of using my "Wild Cards" was almost zero. At the beginning, I took it badly because I was going to miss the season, I had a feeling of great impotence because I was hurt when I had the best opportunities: Wildcard in Hossegor, Wildcard in Pantin,..
But I have received a lot of support from my coach Aritza Saratxaga, Volcom, my family, all the children in the Skola Peña Txuri that I train ... so I felt cared about.
And how did the campaign # ÁnimoLeti come about? Have you actually been encouraged?
(Her twin sister Loyola Canales started this campaign to encourage Leticia in her recovery.)
Yeah!! It turns out that my insurance has lagged far behind: I was injured in August and I had to wait for late September. The reason for #AnimoLeti was that in that moment everything went wrong: I had no physio sessions; they were not going to do my surgery... I hit the bottom psychologically. Then my sister Loyola invented this campaign and it’s been great because I have not only been supported by people surfing, but the people from hockey, people from other regions ... The next day I was walking in the street and everyone gave me courage. Like a new life!!
Now that you have finished your physical training, what is the most immediate goal you fixed you?
I only have three weeks between my comeback and the first competition, the QS in China. My goal is to get back to where I was, but I know it will not happen in three weeks. My goal in China is simply to score some points, because I lost my ranking from last year, so I'm going to attack from below. So little time has passed since my comeback I don’t think I will be at more than 20% of my ability, I can’t expect miracles.
The results I’ve made are from the work and training. I train everyday, but do not expecting results. China to me is like a pre-season and in April I intend to do the juniors. My annual goal is to do what I could not do during 2014 European Championship, which is be in the top 3, European QS, with the choice to go to selection for European and World Junior. I would do all possible QS to make my points, but it depends on the money as well.
Speaking of "money", now you're in the campaign of the daily sports magazine Marca "Patrocínalos." How did it happen?
My coach and I are always looking for online sponsorship opportunities on the world circuit, because it is something very expensive. I have two great friends, Rocío and Lucia, in the selection of Hockey and they are also on this platform, so they encouraged me. Here crowdfunding, especially in sports, do not have much success, but the positive side is that it gives you a lot of visibility and gradually people know you and they get to know competitive surfing.
Being there is always good, the magazine Marca only asks me to have a realistic project. I recently participated in a shoot for Marca Estilo with makeup, lights... it was a very interesting experience. This opened the door to other experiences like this.
Do you think media like Marca can help visualize surfing not just a fad but as a competitive sport and for you as an athlete?
During the 2011 European Championship, which took place in Ireland I was in Marca when I qualified for the final. It is good to get out in such sport newspapers. Marca is one of the most read newspapers... On TV, I see surfing all the time in advertisements; cars with surfboards on the roof... but these brands don’t support the sport itself or the athletes, which they could.
I’I think this type of surf mode is a bit of hallucination: you sell a sport like fashion, like tourism, but no support besides that and some need the money to reach their goals within this sport.
Now for those fitness goals: being so long out of the water, what kind of training did you follow to minimize the lack of surfing?
As soon as I removed the staples of the operation I did swimming, lots of swimming, walking and lots of biking. Two weeks after the operation, I started massages and physio exercises that tortured me; I had never felt such pain!! (laughs) but I started here in Peña Txuri with my physical trainer (Aitor Santiesteban) and my surf coach (Aritza Saratxaga) to coordinate all exercises.
To keep fit I exercised with rubber bands and swam a lot. About 3000 meters in the pool. If I hadn’t done that, I couldn’t be at this level when I started surfing again.
How was your comeback to surfing?
The first day I went surfing, it was fatal: I had sore ribs and I had trouble reaching the peak. That day, the waves were huge and after four months without feeling that... I was afraid, to say the truth! (Laughs). My coach pushed me to just take the whitewater at first and the second wave I got up. Normally, sessions are short, from one hour to one and a half, but as I went to Mundaka to train and felt good, I stayed over three hours. All the people I saw there told me "Great Leti, you're back!!” I am happy to surf again, but my surfing’s not back yet.
My mother always reminds me that I have to study because I might hurt myself and all the doctors told me "Every athlete gets injured and it’s always when they are at their best", but they also said they most times become stronger, so I’m sticking with it. "I will return and surf better”.