Amputee Kovacevic defies odds to make stunning return

Thu Nov 12, 2015 7:24am EST
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By Zoran Milosavljevic

BELGRADE (Reuters) - No one would want to be in Natasa Kovacevic's shoes and very few would even be prepared to contemplate what the promising basketball player has accomplished in the last two years.

Despite needing to have her left leg amputated below the knee after a fatal road accident in September 2013, the 21-year-old from Belgrade made a full comeback in a Serbian league game on Wednesday.

Family, friends and fans packed into a cramped facility on the city's outskirts as Kovacevic made her "second debut", amassing five points, three steals and as many rebounds in Red Star's 78-47 win over Student Nis.

"It is fantastic to be back on the court and I am overjoyed to have returned to the game I love and cherish," a beaming Kovacevic told reporters.

"At times, I feel like the two-year absence never happened. I came out to enjoy myself and I have to thank my team for making it possible.

"This means the world to me and I hope it will show other people they can achieve anything in life if they set their minds to it."

One of Serbia's brightest youth prospects, Kovacevic's hopes of Olympic stardom came to a juddering halt when she needed to be rescued from the mangled wreckage of her team bus three months after joining Hungarian side UNI Gyor from Red Star.

Having learned that coach Akos Fuzy and general manager Peter Tapodi perished in the crash, Kovacevic's first reaction in hospital after losing her leg was that she was fortunate to still be alive.   Continued...

Natasa Kovacevic (C) of Red Star Belgrade in action during the Serbian women's basketball league game against Student Nis in Belgrade, Serbia, November 11, 2015. REUTERS/Marko Djurica