The road to recovery

Coping well: The AIS girls

Coping well: The AIS girls (Image credit: Gerard Knapp)

The survivors of the July 18 AIS women's team tragedy are determined to make it back to the top

The road to recovery is measured in degrees and millimetres, each one painfully gained as shattered limbs gradually regain movement. Gerard Knapp reports from the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) in Canberra, where the five riders who survived the shocking tragedy in Germany this July were back in the lab, showing an amazing rate of improvement and still very much an important part of the women's road racing program.

Katie Brown moved her left leg - initially thought to be so badly damaged, it would need to be amputated - on to the pedal of her new bike, and the rider gingerly, painfully, began another important cycle of rehabilitation.

It was less than five months earlier that Brown had ended up in a ditch on the side of a relatively quiet German road, after being slammed within an inch of her life by an out of control car. That same leg, as she put it, had been shattered to the point where "my ankle ended up around my armpit."

But a few days prior to her session in the AIS biomechanics lab in Canberra, surgeons in Sydney performed yet another operation. This time, it was removal of a section of synthetic cord, wrapped in a figure-eight pattern around her kneecap that had held her leg together. Its removal led to another a breakthrough for the rider; she went into triple figures - 101 degrees, to be exact - of knee bend.

Earlier, her knee flex hovered in the low 90s, but all the determination was there in the AIS biomechanics lab to go further, whatever the pain. The effort belied her appearance. Katie Brown is a blonde, bubbly extrovert. Her t-shirt she wore on the day in the lab read: "I had a nightmare I was a brunette."

Click here for the full interview.

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