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 Manager

£36000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Ashdown Group: HR Manager Shared Services - Uxbridge, - 1 Year contract

£50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Manager Shared Services - Uxbridge, Stock...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Human Resource Officer and Executive Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join one of...

Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events business) - Central Manchester - £20K

£18000 - £20000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events busi...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before