It has been a rocky road to recovery for Australian downhiller Tracey Hannah, who broke her collarbone during a practice run in the Alps just over a month before the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Pietermaritzburg. Last year she was celebrating in Pietermaritzburg after winning the women's downhill World Cup round, but after an injury-ravaged year, her world ranking has tumbled out to 26th. The gutsy 25-year-old Aussie is determined to be on the startline at the Worlds in South Africa to challenge for the 2013 world title.
Hannah produced a fearless run during the World Cup leg at the Cascades MTB Park last year to pip second place Manon Carpenter by a mere 0.95 seconds at the end to take the victory.
"This is the third time I have broken my collarbone in the last 11 months, so I consider it more of an inconvenience than a serious injury," the Cairns local said.
"Breaking my femur last year was something that I really did have to get over, and I just dealt with the setback by being positive and working as hard as I could to get back to 100%."
Having such a long-running battle with injury has meant that Hannah has spent a lot of her time on the sidelines this year, and it is going to be touch and go as to whether she will be available for the Worlds. Not being able to ride has meant that she has had to compensate for this in other areas.
"At first I had to do a lot of resting and recovering after the injury, and then I started riding on the road a little bit to get my fitness levels up.
"I am back on the bike now, but it's going to be a close one for Worlds unfortunately," Hannah said nervously.
Hannah missed out on the most recent UCI World Cup leg in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Quebec, Canada in order to make sure that her collarbone has healed enough and will use the Crankworks Festival in Whistler as her final dress rehearsal before she flies out to South Africa for the world championships so preparation time is at a minimum for the Australian star who, if unfit to compete, will be relegated to watching brother and fellow Hutchinson UR team rider Mick Hannah tear down the Pietermaritzburg course.
"The plan was always to miss the World Cup in Canada and to see whether the bone had healed enough before I go to Whister because that will be my only preparation for the Worlds.
"I really just hope that I am back on my bike when I get to Whistler and I only have one week to prepare there so I will definitely do my best to get as much preparation in as possible," she said.
Being the last to win on the Cascades track it seems that the place has a special place in her heart as well as it being a track that highlights her strengths.
"I really love the track; I like the speed of it as well as the berms and the jumps.
"It is a really funny flowing track that works really well for me because there are not many places that you can slow down along the whole track," the Australian national champion said.
Hannah is under pressure to be ready to race at the world championships but she has still set herself the highest possible goal for the competition. She has not planned to go there to make up the numbers that is for sure.
"My first goal is that I will be able to ride there! After that, I am going there to win - no one goes to the world champs for fun!" Hannah said.