Gunther overcomes fractures and funding worries

Thu Feb 6, 2014 1:04pm EST
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By Patrick Johnston

SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - American speedskater Kelly Gunther battled back to competition after nearly having her foot amputated four years ago, so a lack of cash was never going to stop her realizing her Olympic ambitions.

Two months after being told she was on and then controversially off the team for the Vancouver Games in 2010, Gunther's career looked to be over.

She shattered her ankle by crashing into a wall at a 500 meter race in Salt Lake City and worried doctors held back on telling her the possible outcomes after a compound fracture.

"They didn't tell me actually until a year later that it could have been amputated," Gunther told Reuters in an interview in Sochi on Thursday after training at the Adler Arena.

"Just knowing that it really was that bad and what I went through was something crazy. I still can't look at the pictures myself. My doctor, who did the surgery, still has them on his cell phone because he said 'I have seen nothing like that'.

"I've glimpsed at them. I have a look for a second or two but that's all, I can't, it just kind of weirds me out."

Ten pins, a plate, operations aplenty and months of life on crutches followed during a protracted rehabilitation period.

Dark days inevitably occurred with amputation still not ruled out.   Continued...

Dec 29, 2013; Kearns, UT, USA; Kelli Gunther competes in the 1000m during the U.S. Olympic speedskating trials at Utah Olympic Oval. Mandatory Credit: Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports - RTX16WRE