Paralympian eyes Olympic glory after "miracle" crash

Thu Dec 8, 2011 9:36am EST
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By Liza Jansen

(Reuters) - UTRECHT, The Netherlands, December 8 (Reuters) - Paralympic silver medalist Monique van der Vorst has miraculously become an able-bodied Olympic hopeful after a crash reversed her paralysis.

Paralyzed from the hip down since she was 13, the 27-year-old handcyclist, who has just signed with the Rabobank women's professional cycling team to compete as a top-class able-bodied athlete, was hit by a bicycle last year while training in her wheelchair for the 2012 London Paralympics.

While recovering from the trauma, van der Vorst's feet started to tingle and miraculously she began to move them again. From that point on she spent months in the hospital and in the rehabilitation centre trying to regain the use of her legs.

She told Reuters that when she took her first steps again in July 2010, she felt just like a child learning to walk.

"I wanted to jump in the air for joy," van der Vorst said this week, and recalled how great and surprising it was to look at herself standing in front of a mirror.

Doctors have no explanation for her amazing recovery. Some believe the trauma of her last accident may have jolted her body back into activity.

But the realities of her new-found joy also put an immediate end to a successful athletic career.

"Although walking is the best thing you could do in life, I immediately missed the sport, the people and the challenges," van der Vorst said.   Continued...