It has been one year since Latvia’s Laura Ikauniece underwent surgery in Finland but the 2015 world heptathlon bronze medallist will return to the multi-events at the International Combined Events Meeting in Tallinn, a European Athletics Indoor Permit Meeting, on 2-3 February.
Ikauniece had been struggling with a problematic hamstring since the outdoor campaign in 2016. She still finished fourth at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro and improved her national record to 6815 points in Gotzis the following summer before injury got the better of her at the IAAF World Championships in London where she pulled up in the 100m hurdles, prompting the decision to go under the knife.
Ikauniece hasn’t contested a multi-events competition since London and her comeback to the pentathlon in Tallinn this weekend marks an important step on her recovery from surgery.
“Because of the long pause I had from not competing after my surgery, my coach and I both thought it would be a good idea to compete indoors so I can get back the feeling of competing. We both feel it is especially important for the summer season. I feel excited to be back on track again,” she said in the week leading up to Tallinn.
It has been 18 months since Ikauniece started the heptathlon at the IAAF World Championships in London and even longer since she contested a pentathlon. Her last competition dates back to 2014 when she finished third in Tallinn in a national record of 4496 points.
“First of all I want to enjoy the competition; to have that amazing feeling again. And of course I want to get as close as possible to my personal best,” said Ikauniece, who also cites the Glasgow 2019 European Athletics Championships as one of her upcoming targets. "Glasgow will be a very good competition to take part in - to compete together with the best athletes in Europe."
Ikauniece won’t be stepping completely into the unknown when she lines up for the first event - the 60m hurdles - on Sunday. She made a low key return to competition at the end of the summer campaign and has competed in individual events in the build-up to Tallinn. She came close to her 60m hurdles lifetime best with 8.43 last weekend and also set an indoor shot put lifetime best of 13.72m a fortnight ago.
“It has been exactly one year when I started my rehabilitation. It has been successful and the results from this period show that preparation for the summer season is going well,” she said.
Also on the comeback from injury is world decathlon fourth-placer and home favourite Janek Oiglane who competes in the heptathlon this weekend.
Oiglane, who was sidelined during the Berlin 2018 European Athletics Championships, will face opposition from teammate Karl Robert Saluri and Ukrainian veteran Oleksiy Kasyanov, a former world and European medallist in the heptathlon.