Whenever hurdler Sally Gunnell sprinted to the finishing line, her superbly fit body set on victory, fans saw only the elation and tears of joy.
What they didn't see were the agonising training sessions and the pain she endured during competitions. While few of us can relate to this, what then happened to her is drearily familiar to millions of Britons.
After the Olympic gold medallist retired in August 1997, the aches, the misery of sore thighs, calves, knees and ankles melted away — but the chronic lower back pain she suffered from worsened over the years.
Every morning she'd wake up stiff, her back so 'jammed' it would take a couple of hours to loosen up.
"The pain was always there, sometimes a dull ache, at others so sharp I'd wince and almost feel my breath taken away."
It was when she started a family that her back pain became really debilitating. Sally, now 40, has three sons (Finley, nine, Luca, six, and Marley, two) and with each pregnancy found herself clutching her back and groaning in pain as the weight of the baby exacerbated the damage to her spine.
"The pain was sometimes agonising. I got really big with my babies and towards the end I had to put up with a continuous dull, throbbing backache. Lifting my children didn't help.
"Even now I try to encourage my youngest to walk as much as possible, but he's going through a clingy phase and wants to be carried around. It can be really painful some days and I know having a toddler sitting on my hip doesn't help my condition."
Pregnancy back pain is often the first manifestation of a pre-existing condition which may, until then, have been symptom-free.
In Sally's case, her back had been wrecked by sport. Sally has facet syndrome, a type of arthritis involving erosion of the joints of two vertebrae at the base of her spine.
Source - Daily Mail