JUST a few years ago, Amy Connell had two broken legs and was contemplating the end of her karate career.

With casts up to her thighs on both legs, scaling the heights in a sport as physical as karate seemed impossible.

But the 25-year-old is made of stern stuff, and even two broken legs was not enough to derail her charge towards her ultimate goal; becoming the first-ever Olympic champion in her sport.

This summer, karate will make its debut at the Olympic Games, and Connell is well on track to represent GB in Tokyo.

It is a prospect that she could barely have believed five years ago, when she was told her broken legs spelled the end of her career as an elite athlete.

“The specialists were telling me that it was all over,” she said.

“I’m a really positive person but when you have experts telling you that you’ll never get back to competing at a high level, it’s hard.

“At that time, I felt like I’d lost everything because karate was such a massive part of my life. It was really devastating. To hear someone tell you that you won’t be able to do something you’ve always wanted to do is so tough to hear.”

Five years ago Connell developed eight or nine stress fractures in each leg and it had all stemmed from the impact going through her legs while training and competing.

For some, attempting a comeback against all the odds might not have been a realistic prospect, but Connell always had something in her that led her to believe she would make it back to highest level of her sport.

“I saw it as a challenge an there was always something in me that knew that wasn’t it all over,” the -55kgs fighter said.

“I was thinking about other inspirational athletes who had come through so much more and come back so that helped me push through.

There was always a little bit of doubt but there was always a bit of me that believed that I’d get back and that’s what I clung onto.”

What Connnell has achieved since her recovery has been nothing short of remarkable, with 2019 being a particular highlight.

She made history last year by becoming the first Scot to represent GB in karate at a major multi-sport event when she was selected for the European Games in Minsk, and she also won her first major championship medal when she took bronze at the European Championships.

It was quite a few months and she admits she owes much of her success to her injury, which, she believes, for all the struggles, made her a better athlete.

“I just appreciate everything so much more now – I appreciate being able to train and compete whereas before, I think I took it for granted.

Until that injury, I’d trained all the time since I was about five years old so I just though that’d be how it would always be. But now, I’m so much more grateful.

“I have days when it’s hard to get motivated like everyone does but it never lasts long.

“If you said to me back then that I’d be where I am now, I’d never have believed you.”

That Connell has Olympic qualification in her sights is something of a dream in itself. Growing up, karate was not on the Olympic programme so becoming an Olympian in the sport she loved seemed an impossibility.

Karate made a bid to be included in the 2020 Games, with Connell’s dad, who was president of British Karate at the time heavily involved in the bid, and when news reached Connell that karate was, indeed, to be included in Tokyo, it was huge.

“I remember getting a phone call telling me it was in and I just started crying because it was such a huge thing,” she said.

“At that time, I’d just started to come back from the injury so I knew that I had a chance to get there and I felt like it was meant to be. It was so emotional – it’s one of my best memories.”

Connell’s next competition is in just over a week, in Chile, and is the next event in her quest for Olympic qualification. She is currently on track but with four months still to go, nothing can be taken for granted.

But the Scot has her sights set on something far greater than mere qualification, with the opportunity to become one of the sport’s first Olympic medallists a quite monumental prospect.

“It’s potentially the first and last time karate will be in the Olympics because we don’t know if it’ll be in 2024 yet,” she said.

“This has been my goal since I was a little kid so it’s so exciting to have the chance to get there. And then if I can get there, then I’m in a great position to take home a medal, which is the goal. But first thing’s first, I need to get there.

“It’s everything I’ve ever wanted.”