Injured triathlete is back on track
After an extreme training accident left triathlete Josh White temporarily wheelchair-bound, doctors told him to pursue another sport.
Less than two years later, he’s back winning international triathlons.
In July 2006, Josh, 26, quit the navy to become a fulltime athlete but was stopped in his tracks after just four weeks.
“I was coming back towards Takapuna from a training ride in the Waitakeres, on a brand new bike too. It was its first ride,” he says.
“The driver of a sports utility vehicle looked right through me and pulled out. I had no time to react, I went straight into the side at about 50kmh, bounced out over the windscreen and towards the oncoming traffic.
“I don’t remember much more, just lying in the middle of the road wanting to know if I’d broken my neck. I was happy just to be able to wiggle my fingers and toes.”
Josh says he was “very lucky” to be left with only his arms, right wrist and left femur broken.
The car was written off.
Josh later underwent eight hours of surgery where, among other procedures, the length of his left femur was drilled out to make way for a titanium rod.
“Josh sustained a nasty left femural fracture as well as hand and wrist injuries,” says North Shore Hospital orthopaedic surgeon Rob Sharp.
“His injuries were significant and required surgery. A rod was inserted down the length of his left femur to keep the fracture aligned but I didn’t promise the surgery would get him back.”
Josh spent the next two months in a wheelchair while other doctors estimated a twoyear window before any sort of comeback.
“They said if it was success I was after, I should find another sport. They said I’d really struggle to return to be a competitive triathlete,” says Josh.
Three months later he was in the pool for occasional “high intensity, low impact” workouts and last month the comeback was completed when he won the Rarotonga international triathlon by almost five minutes.
“Rob Sharp was one of the few medics who supported me,” says Josh.
“But I never doubted I’d make it back.
“Having time off helped me focus and I kept myself going by setting up a specialised coaching business.
“I now split my time between training, coaching and working a fulltime job.
“My partner Sally is very understanding.”
“His recovery has been quite remarkable,” says Mr Sharp.
“It’s testament to his drive and determination.”
Josh says he’s been training weekly with fellow training crash victim Anna Hamilton, who is “doing well”.
Josh’s goals now include becoming one of New Zealand’s top triathlon coaches as well as “the Great Wall Marathon remaining on the to-do list”.
Bouncing back: Triathlete Josh White, 26, is back winning less than two years after being hit by a car while out training.