Batty races Olympics despite cracked collarbone

Canada's Emily Batty had been eating, sleeping and breathing thoughts of the 2012 Olympic Games for years. She was in fine form, finishing fourth at the Val d'Isere World Cup two weekends ago. Then a crash during training on the course in the week leading up to the women's Olympic cross country race on Saturday almost cost her the chance to participate. However, she was determined to still compete, even with a newly broken collarbone.

After finishing the race in 24th place, Batty was asked by TV reporters how she was doing. "I've definitely been much better. Obviously the Olympics was something I'd been preparing for for two years. I poured my heart into it every single day and every single night," she said.

"We worked so hard to get here. I didn't want to give my dream up. I wanted to compete and do my best here. I felt strong enough. I didn't want to let my support network down. I didn't want to let this go."

Batty crashed on a small rock table top on the fastest downhill part of the course on Tuesday. According to her partner and coach, Adam Morka, "She essentially came in with too much speed and the back wheel bucked her over the bars. She got launched over the handlebars at 40+kph."

The Subaru-Trek team racer cracked her right collarbone, an injury that often sidelines racers, but her prognosis was not quite that bad.

"The way it is broken, it is quite stable. It's bone against bone and has very little chance of displacing itself because they are both pushing on each other," said Morka.

"She saw one of the best orthopedic doctors at the Olympic Village. He said, 'If I didn't see the X-ray, I would have gave you a pat on the back and told you to get back on your bike'. Her strength and range of motion blew him away. However she is really sore everywhere and will need some serious tape to feel confident riding."

Another doctor's visit two days later subjected Batty to some more testing. Doctors had her test ride two laps on the course. That same day she was given the green light by medical staff to go ahead and race. The decision was up to her.

Banged up and with two bruised both shoulders, hurting ribs and cuts on her hands and legs and hips, Batty took to the Olympic start line.

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Sue George is an editor at Cyclingnews.  She coordinates all of the site's mountain bike race coverage and assists with the road, 'cross and track coverage.