On July 13, 2007, French long jumper Salim Sdiri was warming up near the infield at a meet in Rome when Finnish javelin thrower Tero Pitkamaki let one fly. His toss was errant and hit Sdiri in the back.
Sdiri shouted and twisted. He grabbed at the javelin protruding from his body, then released his grip and dropped to the ground as officials and athletes rushed to him. Pitkamaki watched from afar and cradled his head in his hands.
He has spent the intervening months recovering. “I won’t hide that there were many times when I’ve had a hard time sleeping,” Sdiri, 29, said in an interview with the French radio station RTL this week. “Everything runs through your head.” He had internal liver and kidney injuries and lost 15 pounds.
Amazingly, on Sunday at a meet in Bordeaux, France, Sdiri was back competing. He did not win the event but came close to matching his personal best. Just competing, though, was a triumph.
“I am very, very happy,” said the delighted Sdiri after the qualification. “I’m like a kid taking part his very first competition. I wasn’t nervous before my jump, maybe my heart was beating faster than usual. It was more than a relief to be here.”
Video of Sdiri being hit by the javelin: --Jim Buzinski