BERLIN (Reuters) – World and Olympic champion Kristina Vogel, who was paralysed following a training crash in June, said on Wednesday she was ready to tackle her new life but has had no contact with the Dutch rider involved in the collision.
In a news conference at the Berlin hospital where she has been treated, Vogel, a record 11-time world champion, said she had accepted the fact that she would not walk again moments after the accident at the Cottbus Sport Centre Velodrome.
“I said ‘breathe, breathe, breathe’ and then I checked,” she said of the collision in which part-time police officer Vogel suffered serious spinal and chest injuries.
“Then I saw where I lay, how I was. When my shoes were off I knew that this was it with the walking. I realised quickly I would not walk again.”
She underwent back and chest surgery and earlier this month announced she had been paralysed.
Vogel said neither the cyclist who had crashed with her, nor the Dutch cycling federation had been in touch with her.
“I have had no contact with the rider,” a smiling Vogel, sitting next to her doctors, said. “Neither the Dutch federation nor the rider have been in contact.”
Vogel added she was looking forward to an independent life and to find a role in her sport.
“Tears will not help. It is what it is,” she said.
“I am ready to take on this challenge and make the best of it. I want to get back into life, not depend on a lot of help. I must use this strength I had in competitions for my life. Asking ‘why me’ does not bring you any further.
“For the first time I have time to take decisions for me, to be free and learn step by step what I need to. I want to do things for cycling. I want to give something back.”
The 27-year-old had previously suffered serious injuries when she was hit by a minibus in 2009 while riding near her home, being placed in a medically-induced coma. However, she battled back to win Olympic gold in the track cycling team sprint at the London Games in 2012.
At the Rio Olympics four years later she won gold in the individual sprint despite her saddle breaking at 60kph in the closing metres of the final.
Vogel has won 11 world titles — a record she shares with Australian great Anna Meares. She also has three European golds.
(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Christian Radnedge)