NAYPYIDAW- Injuries and distractions are the bane of athletes in the midst of preparing for major competitions.
Yet, Singapore's Janine Khoo overcame both of them in spectacular fashion at the SEA Games in Naypyidaw, clinching a rare equestrian gold for the country in the individual showjumping event yesterday.
The distraction was the GCE O-level examinations - something which was constantly at the back of the 16-year-old Methodist Girls' School student's mind as she juggled studies and sport.
But her injury, which happened 10 days before the vital exams and two months before the Games, was something she could not possibly have prepared for.
"We were trying to clear two fences, but, after jumping the first, the horse swerved before the second," she said, recalling the October incident.
"I was thrown off into the frame of the fence and the pain I felt then was something that I would rather want to forget."
Her cheekbones were smashed in the fall and she needed reconstructive surgery to insert four titanium plates and a wire mesh to restore her face.
The surgery took five hours and she spent four days in hospital.
But it took only three weeks after the accident before she was back on a horse at the National Equestrian Centre.
"All the time when I was hospitalised, I was thinking about riding a horse again," she said.