American cyclist Saul Raisin is getting back into shape after a terrible crash almost put an end to his life on April 4, 2006, at the Circuit de la Sarthe in France. The Crédit Agricole rider crashed heavily and fell into a coma afterwards, suffering severe injuries to his head and brain. Now, the 23 year-old is preparing his come-back to cycling.
Interviewed by French Cyclismag.com, Raisin said that he remembered nothing of his accident, but that the support he received during the long days subsequently spent in hospital helped him enormously in his recovery. "All of my friends and family came to see me, members of the team and other cyclists, too," he said. "The amount of support I received was unbelievable, I got more than 1000 letters!"
Cancer-survivor Lance Armstrong also called Raisin, able to relate to his near-death experience. "Lance called my parents while I was in the coma and I talked to him once since then," Raisin continued. "He told me to stay confident and motivated, and that I could overcome this and be a better person." About the current doping allegations still being published about Armstrong, Raisin commented, "I believe in Lance. He fought for his life and this can explain why he was so strong on the bike afterwards, like I will be."
But for now, the young talent will shape up his body slowly, with a possible come-back to racing only expected for spring 2007 at the soonest. "It would be dangerous to take up racing again before one year has elapsed, because another fall on my head would be very dangerous for me," Raisin continued. "For now I can already swim, run and do home trainer. I would like to resume training on the road in two months. I'm very impatient."
Looking back on his recovery from the coma, Raisin said, "For two weeks at the hospital, I couldn't even move an arm. During that time, I thought that I could never ride again, that I might be paralysed for the rest of my life. I thought it was over. Now, imagine my feelings when I swim , when I ride, when I run! It's impressive. The doctors couldn't believe what they saw. For me, it's a miracle, which has two reasons: the support coming from everywhere in the world, and the prayers. I believe in God."
The young rider is eager to return to competition, once his recovery is complete. He hopes that he will renew his contract with Crédit Agricole after 2007. "Now, I will watch the Tour on TV, but it will be hard, as I want to win it one day, more than ever now. I'm young, I still have my career in front of me. Me need and desire to take up competition again are immense," Raisin concluded.
Courtesy of Clément Guillou