By Greg Johnson
Inspiring Sydney cyclist Katie Brown returned to competitive cycling last week at the UniSA Women's Criterium Series, held in conjunction with the Tour Down Under in Adelaide, Australia. Brown's return to competition comes less than two years after she sustained horrendous injuries during a training accident in Germany that claimed the life of teammate Amy Gillet in July 2005.
"I'm happy to finish in the middle of the bunch," said Brown on her return. "I'm just up there to enjoy myself."
The event is just one of many Brown will contest in 2007 following the announcement she's signed to ride for the Dutch Vrienden Van Het Platteland team this season. "I'm just so proud to be out here, I really am," added the passionate Brown.
Her return to racing last week is the fullfilment of vow Brown made to the Australian media in August 2005, when she declared: "I was quite determined before the accident and now it's just made me a little bit more determined. It's just a setback. It's something to rebuild and focus on. They say that this will make us stronger mentally and physically."
Brown, the younger sister of Rabbobank's Graeme, is left with minor scaring as a result of her injuries, which included: a fractured right patella; ruptured left patella tendon; cuts requiring stitches all the way down the right arm; all but two bones broken in left hand, and broken knuckle in ring finger; two broken ribs on the left side; and a collapsed lung.
It was just five months after the horror crash that Brown returned to a bike at the Australian Institute of Sport for the first time. While the movement in her leg was limited at the time, she was lucky to have a leg at all, with the injuries at first believed to be so bad that doctors considered amputation.
While Brown may well be back on the bike, she admits it will take time to return to the level she was at prior to the accident.
"I don't have the legs yet, the girls have been racing hard throughout the season and are really strong," she said.