British field hockey player Sam Ward suffered multiple fractures to his face when he was hit by a ball earlier in November during an Olympic qualifying match against Malaysia. The horrific injury also caused vision damage in hsi left eye.
Despite all of that, Ward is vowing to play in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
"Reports that I am retiring are completely not true and never were true," Ward told CNN. "It's rumor mill... I do have some sight loss in my left eye but I still have peripheral vision and a fully functioning right eye."
On Monday, Ward had 31 staples removed from his head that were placed there after the injury.
"Staples have come out of my head today. I'm on the road to recovery and the swelling has gone down — I am starting to look like a normal human being again," Ward added.
He posted some graphic photos on his Instagram account of the aftermath of the injury, which left the British star with "six or seven" fractures to the side of his eye and cheekbone after being hit by a ball in the Nov. 3 game.
Warning: Graphic images below
Ward underwent surgery for the facial fractures on 10 days later. He has also visited with several eye specialists and a timetable for his return to the sport is unknown at this point. That's not keeping him down, though.
"I will work hard, train hard, and put myself in the best shape possible," Ward said. "It's a waiting game."
He called this a "freak incident" and told BBC that he recalls what lead to the injury:
"I remember seeing the ball heading towards my head, everything just seemed to slow down," he said. "The way I play, I get into some funny positions. It helps me score goals but for the first time ever it really caught me out... I'm just unlucky. I put myself in that place so I've got to take it on the chin."