GIANTS recruit and Olympic Gold Medallist Chloe Dalton has been forced to withdraw from the upcoming Tokyo Olympics after suffering a broken cheekbone during the Oceania Championship in Townsville last weekend.
The 27-year-old took to social media on Thursday to share the sad news and photos of the horrific injury, with the bone fractured "in multiple places".
"Sitting here writing this with tears rolling down my cheeks wishing I was writing a completely different message," she said via Instagram.
"During our tournament last weekend in Townsville, I fractured my cheekbone in multiple places. After spending the week isolated in a hospital room in Townsville, I'll head into surgery this afternoon to have plates put in my face. Unfortunately, there won't be enough time to recover safely in time for Tokyo.
"Writing these words down in absolutely devastating and makes it all feel so much more real. This past 18 months have been some of the most challenging in my life, and I've overcome so many mental and physical battles to get to this point. Sport can be so beautiful and so cruel at the same time.
"Come the end of the month, I'll be cheering my lungs out for my incredible teammates going over to Tokyo to represent our beautiful country. I couldn't be more proud of the work that this group has put in every single day throughout some incredibly uncertain times. These girls are the elite of the elite, and it has been such a huge honour to be back playing alongside them."
Dalton grew up in Sydney and was part of the gold-medal winning Rugby 7s team at the Rio Olympics in 2016 before turning her sights to AFLW and playing 16 games for Carlton across 2019 and 2020.
Runner-up in Carlton's best and fairest count in 2020, Dalton sat out the 2021 season to focus on her preparation for Tokyo before joining the GIANTS during the AFL Women's trade period last month.
Dalton suffered the injury during the Oceania Sevens Tournament last week in Townsville, the final warm-up event before the Olympics.
The thoughts of everyone at the GIANTS are with Dalton at this tough time with the club to provide her with all the support she needs ahead of the upcoming AFLW season.