BERLIN (AFP) — Germany’s Olympic and world sprint cycling champion Kristina Vogel is a paraplegic using a wheelchair since a crash in June, she revealed in an interview published Friday.
“It’s a crappy situation, there’s no other way to put it,” the 27-year-old told news weekly Der Spiegel in her first interview since the June 26 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 and was 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.
“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 paralyzed from the neck down.”
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.”