By Oliver Farrimond
A VETERAN Olympic hammer thrower is set to smash a British record – just weeks after a SECOND hip replacement operation.
Chris Black, 59, has battled back to full fitness after the procedure, which is his second in just over a decade.
And now Chris, from Edinburgh, is confident he can reach a new milestone – especially because he set a world record after undergoing his first operation.
He said: “I am living proof that life does go on even after a hip replacement – people can and do continue to do virtually all of the things that they used to.
“I’ve always been a really active person and I couldn’t bear to sit about and do nothing.
“I am in training for my next attempt in two months time, and I’m determined to collect that record.”
Chris took up hammer throwing in his late teens and went on to have a glittering career in the sport.
He competed in two events in the 1976 Montreal Olympics where he took seventh place, and in Moscow in 1980, as well as four Commonwealth Games where he took bronze in 1978 and 1982.
But as he grew older the veteran athlete and coach began to experience pain in his left hip.
In 1998 he underwent his first hip replacement, but he refused to adopt a slower pace and gradually worked his way back to fitness with walking, weightlifting and stretching.
It took nine months, but he managed to make a comeback in hammer throwing and in 2001, he set a world record for the over 50s when he threw a 6kg hammer a total of 66.92m, which he still holds.
He added: “I was delighted with my record – it took a long time, but I just worked away at it slowly and gradually built up my flexibility and strength.
“More importantly I had to be careful about the stability of my new joint.
“My balance was also really affected so I had to work on that also, but I did it.
Then in June 2009, he began to feel pain in his right hip and was told he would have to undergo a second hip replacement.
However he was around 2.5 stones overweight and his blood pressure was very high, which meant he was considered unsuitable for surgery until he was able to change his lifestyle.
Chris rose to the challenge and with his determination, knowledge of exercise and healthy eating plans, he managed to shed the excess weight and transform his inner health in just one month to be accepted on the surgical list.
And after spending five days in hospital recovering from the procedure, he then began cautiously exercising the new joint within days and soon resumed his coaching career.
He said: “This time I knew what I had to do and I was sure that I could recover faster.
“You have to train yourself to deal with the new hip, but anyone can do it if they set their mind to it and work with the advice you’re given.”
Now Chris has his sights on the UK record for the over 60s, which stands at a distance of 53.5m.
He is already in training and practices for around two hours every other day to ensure he celebrates his 60th birthday by lifting the UK record for his age group in January.
NHS Lothian surgeon Colin Howie, who performed Chris’ second operation, said the athlete was an inspiration.
He said: “Chris shows that life does not have to slow down after a hip replacement, and that patients will have to give up the things they like to do.
“He has been a high achiever all his life and the knowledge he has gained about healthy living, nutrition and exercise helped him to optimise his fitness for surgery and lose weight.
“His positive outlook and general ‘joie de vivre’ have helped give an excellent result because we rely on the patient to make the most of what we do.
“He will be an inspiration to many who are about to undergo a hip replacement.”