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."
filmFilm producers sue Warner Bros for $75m over Hobbit films
sportNapoli 2 Arsenal 0: Gunners must now face either Real Madrid, PSG, Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid or Barcelona in knock-out stages
Swedish stars ask fans for £195 pledges on crowd-funding website
voicesJust when you thought you could find a man, get married, and have a baby by the age of 35... it turns out you’re too late, says Grace Dent
musicAs Mariah Carey and Noddy Holder rake in the royalties from their classics, why there hasn't been a decent festive hit for 20 years?
theatreAuthor Daniel Rosenthal recalls the mishaps that almost brought the curtain down on the likes of John Gielgud and Diana Rigg
lifeAs the Royal Mail plans to phase out deliveries on two wheels, it's no wonder posties are in a spin
musicThe 21-year-old beat Ella Eyre and Chlöe Howl to win the honour
lifeFull of the joys and want to help your fellow man? December isn't the time to do it
techLuke Blackall reports on precision engineered prams and babygros that monitor your child 24-7
Latest in News
Nelson Mandela memorial: ‘Bogus’ interpreter made mockery of Barack Obama’s tribute in Soweto
David Cameron explains selfie with Obama and Helle Thorning-Schmidt at Mandela Memorial
French café starts charging extra to rude customers
Krokodil in Mexico? Teenager hospitalised after 'injecting drug into her genitals'
Australia incest case: Filthy and severely deformed children found in remote farming community after generations of inbreeding
- 1 Nelson Mandela memorial: ‘Bogus’ interpreter made mockery of Barack Obama’s tribute in Soweto
- 2 John McAfee's $100 'anti-NSA' device: 'this is coming and cannot be stopped'
- 3 French café starts charging extra to rude customers
- 4 Is Facebook making us forget? Study shows that taking pictures ruin memories
- 5 Australia incest case: Filthy and severely deformed children found in remote farming community after generations of inbreeding
£600 - £750 per day: Cornwallis Elt : SENIOR PROJECT MANAGER- HR- ORACLE- ASS...
£23 - £30 per hour: Morgan Hunt: A fantastic opportunity has arisen within a c...
£35000 - £40000 per annum: Morgan Hunt: Job Title - HR Manager Role type - Pe...