In what is probably every competitive athlete’s worst fear, Sara Sigmundsdottir has experienced an incredibly frustrating setback: She recently suffered a knee injury and has withdrawn from the Open — and the rest of the 2021 competitive season.

Here’s her full message to fans on Instagram:

For the curious, the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is a strong band of tissue that helps to connect your femur (thigh bone) to your tibia (shin bone). It plays a very vital role in stabilizing the knee. Athletes commonly sustain injuries to their ACL during jumping, landing, or suddenly stopping or changing directions — all things that we do a lot of in CrossFit. Think box jumps, sprint ladders, and even possibly heavy lifts.

In the US alone, there are approximately 100,000-200,000 ACL ruptures every year.

Here’s a better idea of what it looks like:

ACL tear
BruceBlaus, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

It’s got to be a tough pill to swallow, without a doubt. To train for months and months (years, truly), culminating with this — the open, the quarterfinals, the semifinals, the Games — to have it all come crashing down due to an injury… devastating.

And this isn’t Sigmundsdottir’s first encounter with injuries and adversity. During the 2017 CrossFit Invitational, a nasty bug got the best of her. Then, she experienced a broken rib. In 2018, she suffered another broken rib.

Her performance at the 2020 Games didn’t go as planned, largely due to a prior injury she sustained during box jumps, which led to an infection that left her with a low cortisol level. The bacterial infection and adrenal insufficiency were simply too much.

Sara had her sights set high for 2021, especially having more recently started working with a new coach. With numerous Games appearances, a couple of podium finishes under her belt, and coming this close to calling herself the fittest on earth, we were all looking forward to a kick-butt season from her.

However, considering it could take a full year for this injury to heal, it’s looking like 2021 is simply out of the question for her.

Still, Sigmundsdottir has never let obstacles stop her in the past, and it doesn’t sound like she’s going to start now. As she said in her Instagram post, “Knowing that this type of injury can be healed 100% gives me every reason to be positive and the hunger to make the strongest comeback is already there. This is my challenge now. Challenge accepted.”

Her season seemed to end before it even started, but we know that Sara won’t stop here. One thing that has always made her a strong athlete and competitor is her resilience. Her drive. Her determination. She doesn’t know the meaning of the word “quit.”

And that’s how we know that she’s going to come out of this stronger than ever.

We’re wishing you a speedy recovery, Sara! Get well soon.

Main image: Sara Sigmundsdottir/Instagram