‘A personal best in Poland will be another step towards Tokyo’, says Victoria Williamson on post crash comeback

The British sprinter is lifting heavier weights in the gym than before her 2016 crash

British sprinter Victoria Williamson says she is heading to the Track Cycling World Championships in Poland with no set expectations, but hasn’t ruled out a personal best.

It will be the 25-year-olds first Word Championships since her horrific crash at the 2016 Rotterdam Six Day event, where she collided with Dutch rider Elis Ligtlee, sustaining injuries which brought her close to paralysis.

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Having made her international return at the Hong Kong Word Cup in January, and scooped up a second place in the women’s team sprint at the National Track Cycling Championships, Williamson will compete in the women’s sprint and individual 500 metre time trial in Pruszkow, Poland.

“Expectations-wise, I’ve nothing set in my head as I just want to lay down a good performance. If I can get a personal best and deliver our absolute best it’s another step to Tokyo,” she told BBC Sport. 

Though she claims to be “a little off” her top speed on the bike, Williamson has been making progress in the gym, now lifting heavier weights than she was able to manage before her crash.

Speaking to BBC Sport, Williamson said: “Anything from now on that I achieve in my cycling career is a bonus, because if you look at my hospital discharge sheet I shouldn’t even be here.”

“I am proud of myself, but more thankful for all of the support from everyone who’s helped me get back here.”

Williamson’s injuries included several fractures and dislocations, plus a laceration deep enough to expose her spine, with one injury just two millimetres from her spinal cord.

She said: “I was told I may not be able to walk, then that it would be a fight to walk without a stick and next there was a doubt I’d ride again.”

“It wasn’t just the physical pain that was tough, it was the mental as well with having things you’d taken for granted taken away like going to the toilet and being able to wash on your own.”

Looking ahead to 2020, she added: “I’d crashed just before qualifying for Rio, but we now have a really strong group of girls pushing one another and I’m confident we’ll qualify [for Tokyo].”

“Obviously it’s a dream for me to compete for Great Britain at the Olympics and it would be perfect to finish off this stint of hard work. Whatever I achieve now is a win already.”