A piece of polyester fibre the size of an elastic band saved basketballer Renae Camino's career, and could result in her becoming Wollongong's next Olympian.Camino was one of the first Australian athletes to have the controversial LARS surgery in 2009. Just over a year later, the former Opal is firing on all cylinders for the WNBL's Logan City Thunder and is a chance of representing her country at the 2012 London Olympics.LARS surgery involves removing an athlete's damaged anterior cruciate ligament and inserting an industrial-strength polyester replacement.The procedure allows athletes to return to training within weeks but is not without its critics. While nearly all recipients have had no complications, little is known about its long-term effects and it is banned in many countries.Camino has heard the criticism both in the media and in more direct terms."Some people are quite blunt and rude to the point of bagging it out in front of you," she said."I went to a physio and a guy asked about my previous injuries. When I said I had LARS he said, 'I guess you don't want to be able to walk when you're 40' ... a lot of the time what they're saying is not proven, either."In my position I didn't really think I had a choice ..."What made Camino's situation unique was a prior knee reconstruction, where part of her hamstring was used to repair her torn right ACL. After Camino re-injured her knee while playing in late 2009, she chose to undergo the ground-breaking surgery.While LARS allowed the point guard to "hit the ground running" in terms of her physical recovery, it took her months to mentally feel back to normal.A conventional knee reconstruction requires a painstaking rehab of nine months and, while a LARS patient can be back running within weeks, Camino found it's not as easy to get your game right."With a normal [knee reconstruction] you've got nine months to get your head around it," she said."It's a long time and as frustrated as you are, I felt like I had a lot more time to get ready. With LARS you're back in three months, but mentally it takes a bit longer."Driving hard to the basket is Camino's strength. But the fact her ACL tear occurred while on a foray to the basket made her comeback all the more frustrating."I was scared to go in the key for quite some time," she explained."It really affected my game, I wasn't playing that well. Now I don't even think about my knee and it's taken me a long time to get there."I feel like I'm starting to play how I used to. The couple of games before Christmas I was feeling like my old self."The 24-year-old is starring for the third-placed Logan (9-6) side, averaging 13.1 points per game in a team-first offence.If she can maintain her strong form, the 2008 WNBL grand final MVP could be in line to regain her place on an Opals roster which will undergo a generational change in coming years."Right now I'm in a pretty good environment," she said."Now it's just up to me to start playing well, control what I can control and improve in areas I can improve in."