BERLIN (AFP) — “I know I will never walk again,” said track cyclist Kristina Vogel on Wednesday at her first public appearance since an accident in June that left her paralyzed.
“Maybe I’ll win my 12th gold medal elsewhere,” added the 27-year-old, who has won 11 world titles as well as two Olympic golds.
“What do I have to feel sorry about? The situation is what it is, I will obviously find other goals.”
Late last week, Vogel announced in an interview with Der Spiegel magazine that she was now a paraplegic after colliding at full speed with another cyclist training on the concrete track of the Cottbus velodrome.
“Falling is part of cycling,” she said Wednesday while sitting in a wheelchair. “I could have been dead, I was damn lucky.”
Vogel’s spinal cord was severed at the seventh vertebra and she has lost all feeling in the legs. On Wednesday, she called a press conference at the Berlin clinic where she was treated.
“I’m not a machine, there were times when I had to learn to let out the tears and I’ve never cried much,” she said.
“It’s a stark break in life, a turn of 180 degrees. But I’m here, on two wheels or on four wheels. I do not have to hide. I would like to be independent.”
For the first time since the accident, the doctors are allowing Vogel to return to her hometown of Erfurt, Germany.
“I’m looking forward to sleeping in my own bed again, cooking for myself, feeling my own walls around me, being alone with my partner.” she said. “I want to resume life and give up outside help as much as possible.”
Vogel emotionally thanked her partner, fellow track cyclist Michael Seidenbecher, for his support “in the hardest weeks of my life.”
She also thanked all those who had sent messages of support.
“It touched me deeply, and it gave me positive energy,” she said. “I cried with joy when I came out of coma and discovered all the messages from all over the world.”
Vogel won gold in the team sprint at the 2012 London Olympics and in the individual sprint in Rio de Janeiro four years later. At the world championships, she has won golds in the team sprint (2012, 2013, 2014, 2018), individual sprint (2014, 2015, 2017, 2018), and keirin (2014, 2016, 2017).
“I wanted to improve my record,” she said. “It’s a dream that is now forbidden to me. Maybe I’ll win my 12th gold medal elsewhere.”