Lying quarantined in a Spanish hospital, Wollongong-based triathlete Aaron Royle was at long odds to compete again in 2013, let alone qualify for the Commonwealth Games.
With an undiagnosed illness and a 12-millimetre hole in his lung, his maiden Games hopes looked in tatters.
After 10 bed-ridden days with a serious bout of pneumonia, the 2012 under-23 world champion was on the brink of giving up his second season on the world stage.
‘‘I wasn’t even thinking about triathlon I was only thinking about getting healthy,’’ Royle said.
‘‘It was a pretty scary time and I definitely thought my season was over.’’
Fortunately for Royle, a swift diagnosis and treatment meant he was back training in quick time.
But the illness brought a new perspective on his competitive season.
‘‘It was strange, a lot of people were like ‘How did you get through that time? How did you stay positive?’
‘‘It was just simply because everything I was doing after the illness I looked of as a positive because I thought my season was done,’’ Royle said.
But with the World Championship finals in London fast approaching, Royle was running out of time to get back to peak fitness.
He and coach Jamie Turner opted to prepare for the competition with an open mind.
‘‘We didn’t really have a full set-in-stone plan, because we were unsure,’’ Royle said.
‘‘I had never been through this before, so we didn’t know how I would come out from it.
‘‘So I had a lot of self doubt and times when I thought maybe my lung hadn’t repaired and I had to work hard to mentally get over that as well.
‘‘To be honest my coach and I never really spoke about the top eight, it was more just worrying about putting together a good triathlon and a byproduct of that was getting a top eight.
‘‘It wasn’t till a few weeks before London where I thought ‘Hey I am in decent form maybe I can get this Commonwealth Games selection.’’
An eventual seventh-place finish rewarded Royle with immediate qualification for Glasgow 2014 in what will be his first appearance at the Commonwealth Games.
‘‘I am really looking forward to it,’’ Royle said.
Royle’s first Commonwealth Games appearance is a stepping stone on his path to another career goal – a place at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
‘‘Obviously the Olympics are the biggest sporting event, that is my main goal over the next three or four years, but I will be able to use the Commonwealth Games as experience in a major competition,’’ he said.