Louise Currey of Port Macquarie has every reason to look back on her Sydney Olympics experience with anger and disappointment.
A genuine gold medal contender, the javelin thrower's dream was over before it even began when she suffered a serious knee injury at the trials, six weeks before the Games.
With two Olympics already under her belt, and a silver medal won four years prior in Atlanta, Currey was determined to do everything she could to ensure she made it to her third Games.
What followed was a blur of emotions, around the clock physio treatment, rehab exercises and a desperate attempt to prove she could throw on a torn ACL and PCL.
It was an injury with a 12-month recovery time, yet Currey had precious little time.
The Wollongong product ultimately made it to Stadium Australia.
The fact she even contested the event was a remarkable achievement, however Currey was well below peak condition.
It was pretty devastating at the timeLouise Currey
Instead of contending for a medal, Currey finished 31st, eliminated in the preliminary rounds with a throw of 53.32 metres.
Her personal best of 66.8m would have won the bronze medal.
Currey admits it was tough to process at the time, the one event she had spent her whole career building towards turning into a nightmare. But now, 20 years later, the police officer said she wouldn't change a thing.
"It was pretty devastating at the time," Currey said.
"My total focus for four years had been to go one better. I was in fantastic form, ranked second in the world and excited about my potential performance.
"It changed pretty drastically after I hurt myself and became all about making sure I got there to compete.
"Whether it's in sport or in life, you don't know what's around the corner. You just have to deal with what's in front of you. It made me a stronger person, I definitely grew from the experience.
"It was hard at the time, but everything happens for a reason. I learnt so much from it."
From the trip to the physio room to have her knee strapped, to the altered mindset and, of course, the fact she was competing in front of a home crowed, everything about Sydney 2000 was different.
"I'd been in that arena for 10 years, competing at that level, it was so different to any other competition.
"They introduced each competitor and that was unreal knowing my family and the people who had supported me from a junior age were there.
"So many people in Wollongong who had helped me and ridden the good times and the bad times.
"I'd love to have had that opportunity to have been in peak performance, walking out knowing I had the ability to throw my best and win a gold medal, but it wasn't how it turned out for me."
Currey was a member of a golden generation of Illawarra throwers throughout the 1990s, with Illawarra Blue Stars producing a number of Australian representatives.
One of those was husband Andrew, who competed at two Olympic and three Commonwealth Games and set an Australian record at Beaton Park in 2001 that stood for seven years.
Such was the strength of the javelin program, numerous athletes moved to the Illawarra to join the Blue Stars, including Melbourne's Adrian Hatcher.
The pair competed in the men's event at the Sydney Olympics, with Hatcher finishing 21st and Currey 22nd. For Blue Stars secretary Valmai Loomes, the period was special for the club.
"That was our great era of javelin throwers," Loomes said. "When they're throwing well and you've got great javelin throwers like those three, it's great to watch.
"Andrew would bind his javelin with tape and you could always see the colours shining in the light. To think he could almost throw from one end of Beaton Park to the other, it's incredible."
Louise remembers the period fondly, the competition and friendly rivalries driving each of them to improve.
That led to two Commonwealth gold medals and an Olympic silver for Currey, with the former Australian record holder pleased she was able to finish her career in front of those who had been with her along the way.
"It was great to have Andrew and Adrian there with me," Louise said. "Illawarra Blue Stars was my junior club and they supported me all the way through.
"To be able to go to the Olympics and represent them, in front of them. I'd done it at other Olympics, but to do it in Sydney where a lot of those athletes got the chance to come along and see someone they know was pretty cool."
Andrew's Olympic experience was split between attempting to prepare for the biggest event of his life and helping his wife manage the emotional rollercoaster that came with her knee injury.
The national champion was considered an outside medal hope, however he threw well below his best at the competition.
Louise remains thankful for the support he provided along the way and while Andrew had hoped to perform better, she knows the pair made the most of their Sydney experience.
"He had his own mindset, his own focus on what he needed to do. But he was also a constant support for me leading up to the Games.
"He always had been supportive too, as we still do. We look after each other, we love each other and it was good to be able to have that experience together.
"I know Andrew would've liked to perform better, but he really enjoyed the experience."
Loomes was in attendance the day Currey broke down and she was back in the stadium for the athlete's Olympic competition six weeks later. She admits it was tough to watch a medal contender reduced to a hobbling participant.
"The trials were a a disaster, an absolute disaster," Loomes said. "Louise and Joanna Stone were medal contenders, they had already qualified.
"Sydney was Lou's third Olympic Games, she was determined to have three Olympics, so she hobbled on to the track with a big brace on her knee. She was nothing like the athlete she was capable of being. It was sad to watch, but she did get the recognition of having three Olympic Games, which few athletes have done."
While disappointed to see her athlete struggling on the biggest stage, Loomes said the entire club was proud of Currey's achievements.
"I was sitting with her family and a number of athletes from our club. When Lou came on the runway, she got a big cheer from all of us, but then she went down in a heap.
"They were thrilled for her to make the team, but devastated to see her go down that way."
Currey had originally hoped to push on towards a fourth Olympic Games, however she knew her career was over the moment she left Stadium Australia on September 29 2000.
It was a reality she was at peace with and with the pressure of the final weeks of preparations released, she decided to make the most of her time in the village.
"With athletics being in the second week, it's a long time waiting before you compete," Currey said. "Once you're finished, after four years of training for one event, you want to relax and enjoy yourself.
"I would have liked to keep going, maybe I would have made Athens, maybe not, but I would have made it to the 2002 Commonwealth Games. But with my knee, I'd had six knee operations. I could have pushed through, but I pay for it now. It would have been a lot of frustration and injuries. It was the right time to call it given the way it was."
A police officer who juggled long hours at work with training and competition throughout her career, Currey was ready for the next phase of her life.
A move to Moree to help Andrew's family soon followed, before the pair relocated to Port Macquarie six years later.
The couple have settled down with two teenaged children.
Every now and then, Currey finds herself thinking 'what if?' The thoughts, however, don't linger for long.
Now 51, she knows those crazy six weeks set her up to cope with a lifetime of challenges.
"As crazy as it sounds, I wouldn't change anything about Sydney. It happened for a reason and I learnt so much from it."
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