How a bike crash set paralysed cyclist on the road to a miraculous recovery

 

The world of professional cycling has been astounded by the remarkable story of a paralympic hand-cycling athlete who has been recruited to one of Holland's top racing teams after an accident prompted a miracle recovery enabling her to regain the use of her legs.

Monique van der Vorst, who was confined to a wheelchair and only able to power a bike by hand until late last year, was yesterday given a place on the Dutch Rabobank's first women's professional cycling team.

"It seems like a miracle," the team's spokesman Luuc Eisenga told The Independent yesterday. Normal foot-powered cycling had been impossible for Ms Van der Vorst from the age of 14, when she became paralysed from he waist down after an operation to correct a walking problem went wrong.

Undeterred by her handicap, she went on to become one of the first women to compete in the new sporting discipline of hand cycling. In 2008 she won two silver medals for her country at the Paralympic Games.

The 27-year-old athlete's successes encouraged her to prepare in earnest for the 2012 paralympics. But while training in Majorca in March last year, she was hit by another cyclist and thrown off her hand-cycle in what at first appeared to be another tragic accident. Her legs went into a spasm and she had to be hospitalised and treated for severe back pain.

However, by June 2010 she began to feel a tingling sensation in her left foot, which soon spread to her right foot. Physiotherapy and regular exercise enabled her to regain control and strength in both legs by late last year. On 20 November 2010 she was able to walk again for the first time in 14 years.

"The sudden change of standing after being in a wheelchair is indescribable because suddenly the whole world has a different perspective," she said. "It is really nice walking next to someone and being able to look straight into that person's eyes," she added. After that there was no looking back. Ms Van der Vorst began riding a regular foot-powered bicycle and then a racing machine. In the spring of this year she made her first foray into competitive cycling. Her remarkable story and determination quickly caught the attention of Holland's Rabobank cycling team, which will set up its first women's team next year.

Jeroen Blijlevens, who coaches Rabobank's teams, said he was looking forward to working with Ms Van der Vorst: "I'm sure the other members of the team have a lot to learn from Monique."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: HR and Payroll Manager

£35000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This dynamic outsourced contact...

Recruitment Genius: Production & Quality Control Assistant

£19000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An excellent opportunity for a ...

Ashdown Group: Group HR Advisor - Kettering - £32,000

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Group HR Advisor with an established...

Guru Careers: HR Manager / HR Generalist

£40 - 50k (DOE) + Bonus: Guru Careers: We are seeking a HR Manager / HR Genera...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss