Something went terribly wrong for Idaho State's Shelby Erdahl during the women's 400-meter hurdles final at the Big Sky Track and Field Championships. The senior was in the midst of running the final race of her career when her left Achilles' tendon ruptured.
A ruptured Achilles' tendon is one of the most devastating injuries in sports. It can take years for players to recover fully to their previous form, if ever. Erdahl wasn't focused on the future, at least not yet. First, she needed to finish the race. Despite being in what appeared to be excruciating pain, Erdahl didn't call for medical assistance. Instead she got up and kept going.
By being one of eight players to qualify for the finals, Erdahl earned her Idaho State team at least one point, if she finished the race that is. A single point for the team normally wouldn't have been at the forefront of some athletes' thoughts after suffering such a serious injury, but it was for Erdahl. She got up and made her way through the end of the race, including stepping over several hurdles with just one leg. At various times, she screamed in pain as she somehow trotted through the final paces of the race.
Eventually, she crossed the finish line and earned her team that point.
It was an unbelievable display of any metric you want to use. You could call it toughness, but there are dozens more. Erdahl finished the race in 2:53:56, nearly two minutes behind the winner, but the clock didn't matter. She finished a race with a torn Achilles'.
Kobe Bryant recently completed his 20-year NBA career. One of the most legendary moments of his career came when he tore his Achilles' tendon but stayed in the game to make two free throws. Many consider it among the most impressive moments of Bryant's career. Erdahl tore her Achilles' and then ran the final five hurdles of a damn race.
Erdahl earned her point for Idaho State, which finished with 29.5 points, good for 11th out of 12 teams. In the grand scheme of the championship, that one point didn't mean anything. But really it meant everything.