Former track sprinter says the 'fire is still there' for the sport, despite paralysis

Two-time Olympic champion sprinter Kristina Vogel has said that commentating on the World Championships in Poland has allowed her to re-enact the joy of racing, and winning.

Speaking to AFP, the German rider who was left paralysed from the chest down after a training crash last year, said that her “fire” for the sport has not been smothered by her injuries.

“The fire is still here. When I am watching sport, it still burns,” she said.

“When I see how people fight on the track, I am really enjoying it because I can re-enact what happens on the track. The joy of winning and then celebrating.

“After my accident on the track it didn’t go away. I hope I can give the viewers [watching the Poland event] something extra, with the fire I have in me.”

“I hope I can still give this fire a purpose.”

The 28-year-old was left paralysed after her crash at the Cottbus track, in Germany, in June 2018. Riding at around 65 kilometres per hour, her sprint was disrupted when another rider joined the track during a training session.

It wasn’t Vogel’s first experience of serious injury. In 2009, she was hospitalised having been thrown through the windscreen of a van.

She said her mother’s faith has helped to maintain positivity.

“My mum has given me a lot… [she] always said, even if I am not religious, she thinks that God gives us tasks that he thinks we can fulfil.

“To me, it just means there is someone there who thinks I am really strong. It makes these challenges a bit easier to accept, and somehow, make the best out of it.”

As well as commentary at the World Championships, Vogel has taken up a new sport in wheelchair archery.

Currently, the motivation is one around health, as opposed to competition.

“At the moment I do not miss the competition,” she said. “I am doing archery because it’s important for my stomach and core strength.

“I am paralysed up to the chest. Which means I have no abdominal or back muscles, but I still need to use these in my daily life. So any sports I can do is good.”

Outside of sport, Vogel – who was a part time police officer as well as a professional athlete before the accident – is standing for election in May in her home city of Erfurt, as a candidate for Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrat Party [CDU].

Vogel is placed second on the CDU’s local list, it is expected that she will be elected for a five year term.