Despite being operated on twice in three days, Olympic medallist John Joe Nevin has returned home on Wednesday April 9 to recuperate just four days after both his legs were broken in a vicious assault (April 5 ).
However, he is still expected to be in a wheelchair for “a couple of weeks”, notwithstanding this positive start to his recovery process.
“He’s in the hands of the medical people now, but his form’s good. I’m only just after getting off with him,” said his soft-spoken coach, Brian McKeown yesterday (April 10 ).
“Ach, he’d be used to it. You know with elite athletes they’re carrying injuries all the time, although I suppose it’d be nothing compared to this,” he added, when asked if John Joe had ever been injured before.
“What’ll stand to him is having been in the high performance unit [for elite Irish athletes] where he’d have access to all the sports psychology. We’ll know better in a few weeks when the recovery is kicking in and we can see how it’s going,” said Mr McKeown, who knows like all coaches, that it is in the frustration of a slow recovery that the measure and mettle of the athlete can be truly evaluated.
“We’ll work with his management [GreenBlood in Philadelphia] to bring along his progress slowly, but he has the strength of character and commitment to go and achieve something. We’ll keep our fingers crossed, and put them four fights on the back burner. He’s a good healer,” said Mr McKeown.
The 24-year-old was set upon in a house in Ardleigh Crescent in Grange on Saturday morning by at least two men as he attempted to mediate in an internal family issue.
Two others, a man and a woman, are believed to have been hospitalised along with the world’s former number one-ranked amateur bantamweight, although their injuries were not as serious.
John Joe was then taken to the orthopaedic centre of excellence in Tullamore where he was operated on that evening, and again on Monday (April 7 ).
The alleged perpetrators were both arrested, and though neither has been charged at going to press, it is expected the DPP will advise the Gardaí to pursue this route.
It’s also anticipated a civil action may be pursued to compensate for the loss of earnings John Joe faces from the four fights he was expected to contest over the coming months.
Fans of the town’s only-ever Olympic medalist will be disappointed that his projected professional debut in Mullingar - expected to have been in Cusack Park in August - will now be postponed until 2015, although it’s believed the injury might only hold his career up by as little as three months.
John Joe started his professional career with a unanimous decision win over Puerto Rican Alberto Candelaria in a sold-out fight in Boston on St Patrick’s Day.