Olympic champion track cyclist Kristina Vogel, who was left paralysed from the chest down after a training crash last June, says she still has a passion for the sport as she prepares to commentate in the UCI Track Cycling World Championships which start in Poland on Wednesday.
The 28-year-old, winner of the team sprint at London 2012 with Miriam Welte and the individual sprint in Rio three years ago, revealed in September that she would never walk again as a result of the spinal injury she sustained in the crash, which happened at Germany’s Cottbus Velodrome, where she was preparing for a competition.
Vogel, who also won 11 world championship gold medals during her career, was riding at an estimated 40 miles an hour when she collided with a Dutch junior rider who had just taken to the track to warm up.
Last week, she was in Monaco attending the Laureus Awards – often referred to as ‘the Oscars of Sport’ – and told AFP that “The fire is still here."
She said: “When I am watching sport, it still burns. When I see how people fight on the track, I am really enjoying it because I can re-enact what happens on the track. The joy of winning and then celebrating.
"After my accident on the track it didn't go away. I hope I can give the viewers something extra, with the fire I have in me. I hope I can still give this fire a purpose."
In September, when she revealed the extent of her injuries for the first time, Vogel said: "It is shit, there's no other way to put it. No matter how you look at it, I can't walk anymore.
"But I believe that the sooner you accept a new situation, the sooner you learn to deal with it."
Last week, she revealed that her mother had helped her come to terms with what had happened. "My mum has given me a lot," she explained. "My mum always said, even if I am not religious, she thinks that God gives us tasks that he thinks we can fulfil.
"To me, it just means there is someone there who thinks I am really strong. It makes these challenges a bit easier to accept, and somehow, make the best out of it."
Vogel has taken up wheelchair archery, but insists that she currently has no ambitions of aiming to pursue a career in the sport, which features in the Paralympic Games.
She said: "At the moment I do not miss the competition. I am doing archery because it's important for my stomach and core strength.
"I am paralysed up to the chest. Which means I have no abdominal or back muscles, but I still need to use these in my daily life. So any sports I can do is good."
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.