SINGAPORE – When a spinal injury ended her dreams of competing in the 2012 London Olympics as a pole vaulter, Amanda Bartrim was despondent.
The Australian, 32, suffered stress fractures in her lower spine more than 10 years ago, and had to give up the sport to prevent further injury.
She said: “I was 19 when I got injured and I just made a really tough decision to stop the sport to try and recover and mentally as well, I was going through a lot so it was a pretty tough time in my life.
“As you grow up as a young girl, all you knew was sport. All I would do is train, I’d go to school then I would train, I wouldn’t go to social things. My whole life was sport.”
It was a tough time for her after quitting pole vault because she lost a lot of her identity. She added: “I had to try and find out who I was and what made me happy and what fills my cup.”
Just when she thought her time in national colours was over, another door opened.
A friend introduced her to floorball, which she felt was a “life-saving thing” for her.
She said: “Everyone was so lovely, so welcoming, and I found so many great friendships through this sport so I found another special kind of joy.”
While the 1.82m Bartrim is athletic, she admitted that she was lacking in technical ability.
She said: “When I first started, my coach would just tell me to run around because I was fast but I didn’t have any skills with a stick or a ball, so I would just get in the way or try to run down the boards and get the ball.”
But the full-time orthopaedic registered nurse was determined to excel in the sport. She would train on her own if her shift clashed with her club’s training sessions.
She eventually earned her first call-up to the Australia national team in 2015 and is taking part in her fourth Women’s World Floorball Championship at the ongoing edition in Singapore from Dec 2 to 10.
Australia, ranked world No. 11, aim to “crack the top 10” in the 16-team tournament. But they will need to bounce back quickly after starting their Group C campaign with a 10-0 loss to ninth-ranked Germany on Dec 2. They will face world No. 13 Singapore on Dec 3.
Bartrim believes that the sport has been growing in popularity in Australia and hopes that more young talent will take up floorball. But the lack of financial support remains an issue.
She said: “We still have a lot of challenges with funding, all the athletes here are self funded. So that’s a big hurdle for us to get over, especially coming to big tournaments like this.”
While she had to quit pole vault, a silver lining has emerged with Bartrim getting to know some friends in floorball whom she has grown close to.
She even asked her club and national teammate Vanessa Austin, 31, to be her bridesmaid at her wedding two months ago.
Austin, who has known Bartrim since 2013, said: “She was already playing when I first came and we played in the Czech Open together in 2016 and since then we’ve got closer and closer. We’re both bridesmaids for each other.
“It is one of the best things to go away with your best mates, we can support each other, be there for each other for the tough times and the good times.”
There is also great camaraderie in the team, with Bartrim adding: “They’re such great teammates that I want to work hard for them.
“I want to help them get results and just to be a part of that Aussie spirit is so special and nothing can beat that.”