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It would be easy to feel down after a career-ending accident that takes you overnight from a world-class athlete to unable to walk. Given those circumstances, most people would be. But not Kristina Vogel. An 11-time world champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist on the track, she is arguably living a fuller life now than during her prestigious career representing Germany in the velodrome.
Kristina joins Bobby & Jens this week as she prepares to commentate on the Tokyo Olympics for German television. But before occupying the broadcast booth, or tearing up the boards internationally, she was a girl who had to share a single bike with her three younger sisters. By age 10 she had joined a cycling club, got a bike to call her own in the process, and by age 14 she headed off to a sports school, an experience which co-host Jens Voigt — who grew up in East Germany — can relate to.
Her path to becoming a premier track cyclist wasn’t easy. “I was always the person who trained the most — sometimes more than the boys,” she says. “And when you train hard, you see results and start winning, and that’s fun,” Vogel added. But she also says that talent and a dash of luck have played a role in her success.
Kristina takes us inside her races with some of the sport’s best riders, like Anna Meares and Victoria Pendleton. Apparently, even for athletes like Vogel, the old adage of “fake it until you make it” is great advice for breaking into the elite ranks.
After she had made it, her career came crashing down in an instant. Kristina takes us through her life-altering training crash from June 2018 which left her paralyzed. “You see all the people coming running to you — and how they are running and how the faces are — I knew this was really bad,” she recalls thinking after regaining consciousness while lying on the ground.
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Despite being left wheelchair-bound, ending her career just as she was on top of the sport, she is very positive. And her life now keeps her busier than ever, with coaching, commentating, and more. After a challenging 18 months for us all, her perspective is invaluable.
“Bobby & Jens” is a weekly VeloNews podcast brought to you by Zwift. It stars former pros Bobby Julich and Jens Voigt and features conversations with top athletes, coaches, emerging stars, and other newsmakers from the wide world of cycling. A new episode drops every Friday. Subscribe now wherever you get your podcasts.