04 October 2019

England netball star reveals fight against illness in build up to World Cup

England Netball captain Serena Guthrie has revealed she was sufffering with glandular fever for six months leading up to this summer's World Cup.

The 29-year-old was an integral part of the England team that won bronze in Liverpool in and was also key in the historic win over Australia in the final of the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

Guthrie says that she was diagnosed in January after the International Quad series with Australia, New Zealand and South Africa and had known there was something not quite right throughout that series but while it was undiagnosed she ploughed on, saying: "I think because I wasn't aware of what it was, you kind of just carry on as normal. 

"When you don't know you've got something, you can't compute how ill or how bad something can be. You just crack on with life."

Glandular fever is a viral infection and symptoms include fever, sore throat and fatigue. There is no specific cure and it requires huge amounts of rest in order to recover - not ideal for a national captain preparing for a home World Cup.

"It was real rest," said the mid court player who had to take a substantial amount of time out from playing for her Superleague side, Team Bath.

"It wasn't just one bike ride a day or anything - it was genuine rest, so it was quite tough for me to be going from doing full-time training, working and everything like that and enjoying my life to absolutely nothing," she said.

"It did cross my mind whether I would be able to step out there and be the Serena that everyone - and myself - expects me to be, but when I got into it everyone was pretty calm, and it helps when you've got people who believe in you.

She hailed the support of her team Bath coach and former England coach Tracey Neville. "Tracey was great," she said. "She was so matter-of-fact, but she needed to be. As an athlete you want to please everybody. As much as I had my Team Bath hat and England hat, the priority was the World Cup at that point. When you’ve got a coach who’s so calm and confident in the team around her and your capabilities I think that’s half the mental battle.” 

Guthrie has now decided to take a year off from the sport but has admitted that a return under new England coach Jess Thirlby could still be on the cards.

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