Vicky Barnes: British sprint cyclist on her recovery from horrific crash

Victoria Barnes – "All my back open & # 39;
World Cup cycling
Dates: November 10-12. Place: Manchester Velodrome
Coverage: BBC Two and Red Button, website of BBC Sport

"Before we can become an athlete, you need to be a normal and functional human"

Sprint cyclist Vicky Barnes fractured her neck and back, dislocated Pelvis and slipped disc in his neck in a serious accident during an omnium race in Rotterdam in January 2016.

Doctors feared that the bronze medalist of the 2013 World Championships could be paralyzed.

But only six weeks ago, he came from a six-hour operation to remove the pins that held his pelvis in the last part of his rehabilitation.

Now the 24-year-old, who represented Britain under her maiden name Williamson before marrying her husband Ollie Barnes in July, is targeting the April Commonwealth Games.

"I had people who told me it was not possible, you are trying to reach that 0.1% of the population that competes as elite athletes who have broken their necks, backs and pelvises, it is not feasible ", he tells BBC Sport, grabbing the bag of pins that were taken out of his pelvis in September. .

"Once people came to know me and the people I work with, and I started to overcome things that I probably should not have had, it was like this girl is synonymous & # 39; "

Here, Barnes talks about BBC Sport through the horrific injuries he suffered and his exhausting road to recovery.

& # 39; She saw my bare spine & # 39;

The rest of the racing calendar was canceled at Rotterdam's Zesdaagse after the fall of Barnes

The race at Rotterdam's Zesdaagse was canceled after a serious accident involving Barnes, who crashed with the Dutch cyclist Elis Ligtlee.

"I was clinging to the fence to get up before the race and a Dutch guy jokingly offered me a sip of his beer," says Barnes. "The next thing I remember is being in and out of consciousness, apparently standing up, I do not remember that."

"I asked my teammate, Ellie Richardson, to take a picture of me. At that time I had no idea how badly injured I was, but Ellie said she saw my thorn naked.

"When I initially crashed, I hit the fence, which is what opened my back, it was like a motorcycle accident, I hit the track and that forced my skin to open."

Barnes spent a week in a hospital in Rotterdam

Barnes was taken to the hospital in Rotterdam, where she stayed for a week before returning to Stepping Hill in Stockport in an air ambulance, which she says It was like "fluttering in a basket, I was lying down and under anesthesia, every jolt was a mixture of discomfort and pain".

"Rotterdam is one of the best trauma hospitals in Europe," adds Barnes. "They did a really good job.

" I had to lie down completely flat, they rolled me up with the trunk to keep me from having pressure sores, but I did not have any inclination in the bed nor any sitting until four o'clock. weeks, which was after back surgery in the United Kingdom.

"I do not like to fly anyway, but the small plane they came back to did not feel safe, I was tied to a board and had a couple of people sat in the back with me – No way was luxury. "

Barnes suffered back injuries in the Rotterdam accident

The strength of Barnes's back that opened on the track left her with the previous scar, while the patch next to her was where the number of the sprint cyclist stuck to his skin.

"That part of the scar is a bit more messy, because the skin burned when they had to peel the number," says Barnes. "It got hot, I went through the skin suit and it stuck to my skin.

" The first thing they did was to sew and clarify everything. The most important thing was the risk of infection. If I had an infection, I would have needed plastic surgery.

"To begin with, Rotterdam did a good job cleaning everything, because my spine almost touched a velodrome.

The pins that Barnes had inserted into his pelvis while in Rotterdam were added on his return to Stepping Hill

"When they did the surgery, they spread the scar slightly to get into my pelvis and I Then he had a back surgery in Stepping Hill, which left a smaller straight scar, that's where they put the nails of the wooden column.

"I have another small mark on the side, which is where in the United Kingdom were added to the pins of the pelvis of Rotterdam. It was hollow, but in the United Kingdom, the surgeon was not happy that it was hollow, so he placed a pin in the middle to give it more stability.

"Back surgery in the UK took eight hours with all the pins and about four hours in Rotterdam to put a pin"

Barnes said at that time that he had luck not to be paralyzed.

"All operations were performed near the spinal cord, especially the pelvis and fractures of my neck," he says.

"I signed a sheet that says" risk of paralysis "and needed surgery, so I just had to mark it and continue.You trust the surgeon, especially in the UK, I still have a good relationship with him , send me a message to see how I am … "

& # 39; My body had adjusted to be flat & # 39;

Barnes was able to leave his bed after almost four weeks in the hospital

"That's when I had to try to get up," says Barnes. "I had been waiting so long that I built it like, yes, I can sit and walk."

"The first day the physio appeared, a couple of inches Incline, and I felt sick. My body had adjusted to be flat. Any type of inclination, I did not like it. I fainted at Ollie's mother, I was in panic mode and started pressing buttons.

"I thought:" Will I ever stand up again without feeling sick or faint? "It took me a good four or five days to straighten up and feel comfortable in an upright position.


"Once I was awake, it was much more pleasant, because I could sit down and eat breakfast instead of having to feed myself to go to bed."

Getting out of bed for the first time happened a few days before Barnes was released from the hospital after only four of the eight weeks he was expected to spend there.

"That was the first time I started moving," he explains. "Everything was fine to straighten me out, but then I had to get out of bed and try to move. I reached the bathroom and came back, a couple of meters, and I felt like an achievement.

"Despite the potholes when leaving the hospital and trying to get into the car, it was nice to leave, although I had to take anticoagulant injections every day.

" I could not inject myself, my mother did. It hurts, I know it sounds pathetic after everything I've been through, but these little things in your stomach are like the devil. I would fear it every day "

Beginning the rehabilitation process

Once Barnes' injuries had healed, he was able to perform recovery work in the pool

"First I did some things on earth, it was basic, I just tried to stretch and win a "As soon as the wounds healed, I was able to get into the pool," explains Barnes.

"This was under Rob Sheridan. I was taken care of for almost a year until everything was considered healed and I was transferred to the Intensive Rehabilitation Unit in Bisham Abbey.

"I was just trying to return to a routine in my life after not doing anything for a while It took a few months to heal completely without risking infection, I saw it from April until I started going down in Bisham Abbey in March

"I was under medical care until March of this year, because we have gone away with the idea of" before we can become an athlete, you need to be a normal and functional human ".

"Until March, the bone graft had not healed and I was not in a position to become an elite athlete, which is why I was under the care of the NHS." I had regular contact with the team doctor in British Cycling, but it was not necessarily under the coaches.

"Until I became a normal human being, there was no point in trying to pursue performance"

& # 39; Numb from the knee down & # 39;

A nerve root trapped in Barnes' left leg meant he had no knee sensation down

As a result of his injuries, Barnes lost the sensation in his left leg, which she exerts pressure when a standing start is made while running.

"On my left side, the root of my nerve got trapped, which left my knee numb," explains Barnes. "The sensation was gone, I would close my eyes and the surgeon was planning where my loss of feeling was.

" We were tracking him to see if he had improved. He was numb from the knee down. Now I'm on my foot. For starters, I was not sure if the nerves would heal, which was not ideal since that's my starting leg.

"Obviously, it was not crushed enough to die completely, only marginally I have I lost the sensation in the upper part of the foot, so I think in the next six months it will be back to normal. I'm there "

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Barnes' wedding It was 18 months after the accident, but at this point the cyclist was "at full steam" in his recovery.

" It's a good job not to have reserved it for 2016!" says Barnes. "I was in a good physical place before the wedding, and it was good to have that rest in the middle of the rehabilitation."

"I was about to start with composite lifts, like squats. I have been working on things of ability: senior representatives and building a great base to leave before starting more things of power. "

Commonwealth Objectives

Barnes removed pins from pelvis in September

Recovery was fine, but in September, Barnes had to decide if his pins were removed after a broken screw under his pelvis appeared in X -ray.

"I had to make the call to take the hook off, or take the blow and get everything out," he explains. "I have made the right decision 100% because, six weeks later, I have returned to where I was before the surgery."

"I had in my head that it would take months and I would lose all the effort I put into it. But I am in a better place and, apart from half of the bankrupt, I am a normal person with the back merged and the pelvis fused.

"The pins can limit the production of force, and being a speed athlete is quite important, the fact that I now have no metal work should, in theory, allow me to produce more strength."

"In the grand scheme of an Olympic cycle, six weeks is not a lot. "

Barnes hopes to finish his rehabilitation in January

If the Commonwealth Games next year are the short-term goal, the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games are Barnes' ultimate goal of having " accepted the fact that I did not "go to Rio, it was not meant to be."

"I'm leaving the physical rehabilitation program now and in my last two seasons in the rehabilitation unit, then I'll come back with the team, "says Barnes.

" We are moving more towards performance, so I will start loading, squats, deadlifts, all compound movements to regain my power as an elite athlete.

"I should end up with luck in the rehabilitation unit at the end of January, the idea is that I will be physically very strong and gross, and then I will transfer it to the bicycle.

" Then I am back and ready to leave, and it's just the case of learning to ride a velodrome again. "

Barnes long-term goal is a place in Tokyo 2020

So, do you think Barnes will compete on the Costa Dorada in April?

"The Commonwealth Games are probably still in the minute, but until I get to a velodrome I can not tell you how good I am going to be," he says. "It's like, can I be in shape in two or three months?" I'll be fit, in top condition, but I will not have been on a bike.

"I'm thinking more about the process objectives in the minute. Gym goals If the result of the Commonwealth Games is feasible, then great, it is a bonus at the end, but if not, I will be pushing towards the World Cup season.

"Next year we'll only have two years away from Tokyo, but that's the long-term goal, to get an Olympic place."

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Vicky Barnes: British sprint cyclist on her recovery from horrific crash

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