Vicky Williamson defies odds to chase Olympic dream

Williamson fractured her neck and back, dislocated her pelvis and slipped a disc in her neck in the accident

Three years ago she was millimetres away from paralysis but Victoria Williamson was never ready to give up on her Olympic dream.

The British cyclist feared she would never walk again after breaking her neck and back, dislocating her pelvis and slipping a disc in her neck in a horror crash in at Six Day Rotterdam in January 2016.

After four weeks in hospital, Williamson returned to the UK and spent a record nine months in intensive rehabilitation, rendering her dream of a medal in Rio impossible.

No one ever imagined she would, or could, return to her athletic endeavours – not even Williamson herself.

But after three years of intense rehab, the 25-year-old is now back in the saddle and with Tokyo 2020 just under one year away, she is ready to write what could be one of the greatest cycling comeback stories ever told.

“I am lucky to even be able to live my life again, let alone continue to be a professional athlete,” said Hevingham’s Williamson.

“I always dreamed of Tokyo and knew I could get there, but I took each month as it came to get back to British Cycling and become an athlete again first.

"I’ve nearly got back to where I was physically before my accident.

“The gym strength came back fairly quickly and even surpassed what I had before, but the technical aspect of riding a bike was the biggest challenge.

“I was trying to transfer the power I had gained in the gym onto the bike which was difficult because being in the saddle is a position my back doesn’t enjoy much.

“It’s been a long journey to get back, but Tokyo was always in the back of my mind.

“Now it’s time for me to lay out the start of my Olympic campaign. My next race in Poland in September will be a huge statement of intent for me as an individual rider.”

If they gave out Olympic qualification places for bravery, Williamson would top the list of contenders.

Just three years on from her life-threatening accident, she represented Great Britain at the UCI Track World Cup event in Hong Kong in January 2019, competing alongside Katy Marchant in the sprint qualification.

The pair finished 14th and failed to reach the next round but for Williamson, the joy of being back on two weeks was a success in itself.

While she is still holding out hope of competing at Tokyo 2020, Williamson is thankful for the position she is in and believes her accident changed her perspective on sport for the better.

“Before I crashed, I was a lot more uptight with training – I lived and breathed cycling,” added Williamson.

“If I ever had a bad session, I would leave in tears. I just wanted to get to Rio so badly, so I threw everything at it. Looking back, it really wasn’t a healthy attitude to have.

“Now, I have a different perspective. I am more determined than ever to get to Tokyo but if I don’t make it, I know it’s not the end of the world. I know no-one is going to think any less of me as a person.

“Maybe I will, maybe I won’t get to be in the one per cent of people who compete at an Olympic Games, but I do get to be part of the small percentage representing their country in sport.

“After my injury, that an incredible thing to be able to say.”

Victoria Williamson is an ambassador for WOW HYDRATE, hydration partner for the Women’s Tour of Scotland.