In­jured triath­lete is back on track

Auckland City Harbour News - - Sport - By Si­mon Plumb

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”.

Photo: BEN WAT­SON

Bounc­ing back: Triath­lete Josh White, 26, is back win­ning less than two years af­ter be­ing hit by a car while out train­ing.

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