Top biker makes up­hill re­cov­ery

The Timaru Herald - - FRONT PAGE - DASHA KUPRIENKO

Queen­stown down­hill bike star Alanna Columb is ‘‘pumped to be alive’’ de­spite her eye not open­ing, af­ter a se­ri­ous bike crash ear­lier this year.

The three-time na­tional cham­pion and in­ter­na­tional top 10 down­hill biker is now un­der­go­ing an up­hill re­cov­ery af­ter she suf­fered a se­vere brain in­jury when she landed on her jaw at Gorge Rd Jump Park on Jan­uary 10.

She was placed in an in­duced coma for four days and un­der­went four weeks of in­ten­sive care treat­ment at Dunedin Hos­pi­tal.

Now stay­ing at her par­ents’ Queen­stown home, Alanna, 29, said she had pro­gressed from not know­ing who she was to walk­ing, and talk­ing, and al­most be­ing ‘‘the old Alanna’’.

How­ever, her right eye nerves were dam­aged and were a key fo­cus of her on­go­ing re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion. But Alanna says she is happy, de­spite only us­ing one eye and get­ting tired eas­ily.

‘‘I am just pretty pumped to be alive to be hon­est. It’s phe­nom­e­nal how well it [re­cov­ery] has gone,’’ she said.

It was dif­fi­cult stay­ing in­doors af­ter spend­ing years rac­ing bikes and keep­ing ac­tive.

‘‘It’s been pretty crazy trau­matic. You go into a weird de­pres­sion.’’

Her mother Mar­i­lyn Columb was ‘‘over the moon’’ about her daugh­ter’s speedy re­cov­ery. ‘‘She’s very lucky that it has been a sur­pris­ingly good re­cov­ery. She’s get­ting the help she needs and she’s do­ing so, so well.’’

Work has been put on hold for six months and so has moun­tain bik­ing. Alanna was keen to start rid­ing again but doc­tors have told her it would take ‘‘quite some time’’ be­fore she was ready.

‘‘She loves her bik­ing, she loves the out­doors and she has a new pas­sion of yoga so she would like to pos­si­bly teach that down the track,’’ Mar­i­lyn said.

To stay ac­tive Alanna has started go­ing for walks. She is not plan­ning a re­turn to com­pet­i­tive moun­tain bik­ing but is hop­ing to teach young women the ba­sics of bik­ing and yoga.

Alanna’s brother, mo­tocross rider Scott Columb, said she was wear­ing pro­tec­tive gear when the ac­ci­dent hap­pened. He had no­ticed a big im­prove­ment in Alanna’s health since fly­ing with her in the he­li­copter to the hos­pi­tal. ‘‘She was in in­ten­sive care for three days, the doc­tors were not say­ing too much. The fact that she’s walk­ing and talk­ing - she is do­ing well.’’

Alanna be­ing young and with the re­cov­ery, Scott said.

As well as be­ing the New Zealand moun­tain bike down­hill cham­pion three times she won the Ocea­nia moun­tain bike cham­pi­onships in Queen­stown in 2016. fit helped

PHOTO: DASHA KUPRIENKO/ STUFF

Thee times NZ down­hill moun­tain bik­ing cham­pion and world’s top ten biker Alanna Columb is re­cov­er­ing from her se­vere brain in­jury and a coma af­ter a bike ac­ci­dent and her mother Mar­i­lyn Columb in Queen­stown.

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