Fitzpatrick breaks the CFS barrier

CHRONIC Fatigue Syndrome sufferer Jack Fitzpatrick has sought advice from former Brisbane Lions premiership player Alastair Lynch in the lead up to the AFL draft on November 26. 

Fitzpatrick, who has been a forgotten tall in recent months because of a thumb injury sidelined him after the national Under 18 championships, said he had been inspired by Lynch, who managed the condition successfully throughout his career.

“Seeing someone play AFL and play it very well with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is really inspiring,” Fitzpatrick said.

 Lynch said he was an admirer of Fitzpatrick, who has battled through several “crashes” in which the Western Jet refers to his illness that has confined him to bed for two to three weeks at a time.

It was only a few years ago that Fitzpatrick would limited to doing just 20 minute walks at training compared to the more frenetic load of a normal football teenager.

Now, Fitzpatrick, who was touted as a top 20 draft selection at the start of the year, said he is managing the condition and was “close” to doing as much training as his team-mates.

The 18-year-old, 201cm beanpole aimed to get as close to the results of last year’s No.1 draft pick Jack Watts at the recent AFL draft camp and provided the second best result ever in the repeat sprints with 23.91. “He’s powerful and quick off the mark. He’s tall and athletic,” Lynch said.

“I haven’t seen a lot of him this year but certainly there’s been some big raps on him.” “He has the athleticism to play a lot of football. Fingers crossed that he gets through the draft this year and if not, I’m sure he will sooner or later,” he said. Lynch said he has told Fitzpatrick about his experiences during his career.

“It (CFS) hampered my athleticism early on,” Lynch said. “Once I sort of got my health back, it was about understanding what is really needed for my body, nutrionally, recovery wise, preparation for events and I trained a lot different than what I did prior to the illness.”

“But once I learnt how to monitor my body with the support of the club as well, I could maintain a level that was good enough to stay out on the field,” he said.

Fitzpatrick said he has to make sure he “gets a sleep in once a week or a really good sleep.” “I’ve just got to manage the body and make sure that I’m not over doing it so that when I do feel the warning signs, you’re backing off a bit. You just have to keep going,” he said.

“I’m doing almost the same amount of work as other kids my age now,” he said. Fitzpatrick, a prolific forward for the Jets and captain of Mackillop College’s football team that won the state championship, has spoken to six clubs – West Coast, Fremantle, Adelaide, Port Adelaide, Fremantle and Melbourne.

By Brent Diamond

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