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2016 Olympic champion cyclist left paralysed after crash during training

Germany’s Kristina Vogel says she is slowly coming to terms with her condition after suffering spinal injuries.

Vogel with her gold medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Vogel with her gold medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

GERMANY’S OLYMPIC AND world sprint cycling champion Kristina Vogel has revealed she is paralysed and using a wheelchair since an accident in June.

“It’s a crappy situation, there’s no other way to put it,” the 27-year-old told news weekly Der Spiegel in an interview published today — her first since the 26 June crash.

“No matter which way you look at it, I can’t walk anymore,” added Vogel, who won the individual sprint world title in Hong Kong last year and a gold medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

But what can I do? I always think that the sooner you accept a new situation, the better you can deal with it.”

Vogel, who has won 11 world titles, suffered the spinal injuries in a collision during training on a velodrome in the German city of Cottbus before being airlifted to Berlin for emergency surgery.

After the crash, fellow track riders and friends launched a campaign called #staystrongkristina to help Vogel and her family, while all declined speaking publicly about her condition.

Remarkably, the Kyrgyzstan-born cyclist had previously picked up serious injuries back in May 2009, when she was placed in an artificial coma for two days after an accident on her bike.

Imago 20180304 Vogel racing in the Track Cycling World Championships earlier this year. Source: Imago/PA Images

“I didn’t want people to see me with such injuries,” she was quoted as telling Der Spiegel, adding that “in the first X-ray pictures, my spine looks like an Ikea folding table”.

I am very fortunate to still be alive and to have fully functioning arms. I could well have been paralysed from the neck down.”

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She said it was too early to think about a future as a paralympic athlete but declared that “now I’m ready to say: here I am and I’m fine. I’m still there and still the same old crazy girl you know.

“I want to be a motivation for others. No matter what fate holds for you, life goes on, in my case now on four wheels instead of two wheels. My arms are now also my legs.”

 © AFP 2018

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