Almost three months after the horror crash that could have left her paralysed, Great Britain Cycling Team’s Victoria Williamson says she’s grateful for her health.
The 22-year-old fractured her neck, back and pelvis as well as suffering a severe flesh wound on her back following a collision with Netherlands rider Elis Ligtlee at the Rotterdam Six Day event in January.
As she continues her recovery in Manchester, the former heptathlete says she has no memories of the crash.
“I remember holding on to the fence, waiting up to go for our ride, but other than that I don't remember anything - nothing really came back.
“I spoke to Ruth (Anderson, Great Britain Cycling Team psychologist) and she said because it’s so far out now, she said she didn’t think anything would come back to me anyway, but I can’t remember anything which I guess is a good thing in a way. It’s not going to put me off in the future.”
Williamson was initially treated in hospital in Rotterdam and remembers seeing her team-mate, guest GB rider Ellie Richardson as she came round.
“I just remember seeing her above me, saying ‘oh, you’ve had a crash’ but I was so high on all the drugs and the painkillers, I found it quite funny at the time and said to her ‘did I win the race?’ and that was all I was worried about.
“But then, obviously as it went on and I came round a bit more in the later days, I realised that I’d actually done quite a bit of damage.”
Williamson initially underwent an operation to sew up the flesh wound on her back before surgeons were able to put a screw into her pelvis. After recovering from the procedure, she flew back to Manchester for her back operation.
As she reaches the three month mark, she’ll be able to have her neck brace removed and move onto the next phase of her rehabilitation. Williamson says she’s keen to take things one day at a time.
“I don’t know and no-one really knows how long it is going to take for me to get back or to put the muscle on or to ride again so I think it's important that in that sense I don't set targets because it will limit my recovery. But I'm just keeping a positive attitude, I'm just going to try and keep focused on the rehab and hopefully get back.
“The crash hasn't really changed my outlook on life. It's made me thankful for what I do have, being an able-bodied person definitely. I mean it was a scare to nearly be paralysed and that was the shock really from everyone was 'how has she not come out in a wheelchair?’ So definitely, in that sense, I've got a little bit of a different view, I'm thankful now for just being fit and healthy and even more thankful to have such an opportunity of being a full-time athlete.
“All the athletes and staff have been in to visit me when I was in hospital and I've seen all of them outside of cycling as well. All the fans, all the tweets and responses and ‘get well soon’ messages and everything has been great and it does help massively just knowing that people out there believe in you as well as the support team. The more support that I can get really, the better, so thanks to everyone that has sent their wishes to me.”