Home is where the heart is for Sarah Carli, who is back in Wollongong as she begins her preparations for a huge 2024 athletics calendar.
The 29-year-old recently returned to the region for a short break, but has now hit the ground running again as she leaves no stone unturned in a bid to book her ticket to next year's Paris Olympic Games.
The 400-metres hurdler slipped and hit her head before a bar landed on her neck. Carli initially brushed off the incident as a concussion, however, she suffered a seizure while under observation in hospital. After further testing, she was diagnosed with a traumatic carotid artery dissection, essentially a tear in the primary vessel that provides blood to the brain.
However, after making a full recovery, Carli was able to hop on the plane to Japan in July 2021, where she finished fifth in her heat in a time of 56.93 seconds.
The experience left the Wollongong talent hungry to have another crack at an Olympics campaign - and she has her eyes set on Paris 2024.
"I took three weeks off, but I'm pretty back into the swing of things. I've already finished my first block of training and I'm in the off-season grind at the moment," Carli told the Mercury.
"It was a good rest at the time. As good as it is for your body, I think it's just as important to mentally take that break as well, and take the time to reflect a little bit. But it's great until you have to come back and you try to get all of that fitness - the first two weeks in particular are just awful," she added with a laugh.
"I was planning to return to racing at the end of March, but we've just had the timetable released and it looks like I'll be racing in early February. We then have our Olympic trials in early April. I'm chasing that qualifier, to be able to race at the Olympics again and be as high as up as possible is the goal."
Carli returned to Wollongong full of confidence after enjoying a strong international campaign, which included competing at the World Athletics Championships, where she finished sixth in her heat.
Her time overseas was highlighted by achieving a personal best in the 400m hurdles, finishing in a time of 54.66, beating her previous milestone of 55.09.
"I hadn't run a personal best since my gym accident, so I think it was a nice closure for me to move on from everything from that," Carli said.
"My racing was pretty consistent across my series and I felt like I was pretty competitive internationally, which is something that I've really wanted to do. There isn't a lot of competition for me in Australia, so it was great to be in races with a lot of depth. I was disappointed with my result at world champs, but I think there was a lot of factors that we've reflected on and we'll make changes for next year.
"But overall, it was a really great learning experience which I think will set me up for the Olympics."
Reading this on mobile web? Download our news app. It's faster, easier to read and we'll send you alerts for breaking news as it happens. Download in the Apple Store or Google Play.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.