Sweden’s Nadja Casadei sets sights on Rio

Currently battling cancer, the Swedish heptathlete is determined to overcome her illness and compete at the 2016 Olympics in Brazil

Posted on December 10, 2013 by
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Nadja Casadei in Grosseto 2001 (Mark Shearman)

Despite being diagnosed with cancer and fighting for survival, Swedish heptathlete Nadja Casadei has set her sights on Rio 2016.

“It’s like Carolina Klüft says, consistency and avoiding injuries are the keys to success. Coming in to this season I felt I had never been better,” Casadei says.

Throughout her career, the 30-year-old has had her fair share of interrupted pre-season training periods. Prior to the 2009 World Championships in Berlin, where she finished 22nd behind winner Jessica Ennis, Casadei achieved her personal best 5905 points with a twisted ankle. But the cancer is something else.

“I don’t miss the road back, but I miss competing and being in shape. Feeling super strong and bouncy.” Casadei says.

Casadei was recovering from yet another injury while in the middle of a hard training period when she was struck by the devastating diagnosis, cancer of the lymphatic system.

Instead of hitting the track she had to submit herself to the hospital and instantly start chemotherapy. But after the shock had passed, her competitive mindset took over. There was no doubt in her mind that she couldn’t, or wouldn’t, beat the cancer.

“I never even considered giving up my career, I still have things to accomplish,” she explains.

The doctors have advised the heptathlete to let her body dictate the terms but haven’t banned her from training. Therefore, Casadei does whatever training she can whenever her energy levels are up.

“I can’t do any cardio but I train my upper body, the calves, my injured tendon and my gluteal muscle,” she says. “I use the weight of my own body and add little or no extra weight.”

The cancer treatment will continue until the middle of January, when Casadei will find out if she has to go through further treatment or if the cancer was just a speed bump on the tough road towards the Olympic Games.

“I want to get the absolute best out of my body and I won’t give up because of a setback,” she says. “I know I can do it.”

» Magnus Ornhammar is a Swedish journalist following the journey of Nadja Casadei as she battles cancer. He can be found tweeting at @ornhammar.

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