"I have no anger about him" - Cyclist Kristina Vogel after accident left her paralysed

The German cyclist was in a training accident with youth four months after she became world champion for the 11th time.

At the UCI Track Cycling World Championships in 2018, Kristina Vogel was dominant.

The double Olympic champion won her record-breaking 11th sprint title.

Four months later, the track cycling giant suffered a training accident and, now, has no feeling below her breast.

She is 28.

Her acceptance of her condition won the respect of many but it is her lack of anger which is most surprising.

“I don’t need to forgive (the person with whom I collided) because I have no anger about him,” she said on the Olympic Channel Podcast.

Her plan is to be at Pruszków, Poland, to watch the world championships and hopes to travel with the German team for the Olympics in 2020.

Podcast: Kristina Vogel has 'no anger' from accident that left her paralysed

Podcast: Kristina Vogel has 'no anger' from accident that left her paralysed

Tokyo 2020

As a two-time Olympic champion, Kristina Vogel’s experience of winning at an elite level is currently missing from her country’s team.

“One of the things that hurts me the most is that I am not there for the people.”

But she remains optimistic about being on-hand to give advice to teammates who made need it in Japan.

“I think I will travel to the Olympic Games in Tokyo. I’m not a competing athlete. But I am not away from the world of cycling.”

Even now, she remains fanatical about the Olympics.

“It’s nice because when I dream – still now – I dream about being Olympic champion or being at the Olympic Games.

“The heart is shaking and the skin is crawling. (The) biggest thing (for an athlete) in your life are the Olympic Games.”

The gold medal moment

Vogel says the winning feeling at the Olympics is almost without comparison.

“Your first touch with (an Olympic) gold medal is like a mother when her child is born…

“You feel so free… The past four years, or longer, of course, (are gone).

“It’s just freedom and happiness. I can’t describe it in one word because there is no word for... pure happiness.”

Rehab

Her outlook remains one of broad positivity but the process of recovery is slow.

“Last year, I was doing bench-presses, and all of that. Now, it’s hard with one kilo. It’s hard to handle that but – I go on.”

The accident may have left her in a wheelchair but the support she’s received has meant she has kept a positive attitude.

“It’s so weird that sometimes it takes that bad moment or that life-changing moment to see how much you are loved by the world.”

“Sometimes you should reflect on what you have and how proud you can be. And what you have achieved in your life.”

Life is better than sometimes (what) people reckon.

Acceptance

Vogel says that she knew as soon as the accident happened that she would never walk again.

A Dutch junior cyclist was practicing standing starts when the German collided with him top speed.

As she reflects on her cycling career, her acceptance that it’s over is startling.

I wouldn’t change a thing.

"All these decisions and all these moments, (they) make me the person I am at the moment.”

Forgiveness

The Dutch junior cyclist is yet to reach out to Vogel but that’s of no concern to her.

“I don’t need to forgive the person because I have no anger about him.

“How would you feel if you were the person who put Kristina Vogel in a wheelchair? I don’t know who he is (and), maybe, some time in the future, he will contact me. Maybe not.

“But, when he wants to talk, I will speak with him.”

Vogel’s zen-like mental state may not be shared by family and friends.

I have never asked them if they have forgiven him. I am scared to question that…

“My life is hard (now). There are a lot of bathrooms and stairs that I can’t use because they are so thin

“I know it’s especially hard for Michael my boyfriend. Because he is the first person of my life – day by day. Carrying me up the stairs – it’s not my mum.

“But I want to fight for them as well. That I have the chance for them to accept the challenge.”

Safety first

It’s now her mission to make track cycling a safer sport after her injury.

“The nutrition is better (now). You are going faster. The technical (things are getting better and better).

“It’s going so fast that (we are still) braking with our skin when we fall and that is crazy because we are going 70 kmph (43mph). Or even faster in the men’s.

“Just to brake with your skin is ridiculous. Maybe that’s what we learn from my accident - is that we have to make track cycling more safe.

Smiling and talking with a maturity beyond her 28 years – Vogel’s heart and passion for life lives on.

Kristina Vogel was this week’s guest on the Olympic Channel Podcast.

We speak to athletes, and others involved in sport, about the biggest Olympic talking points.

Head here for ways to listen and subscribe.

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