After remarkable recovery, Paralympian Van der Vorst joins Rabobank women’s team
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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

After remarkable recovery, Paralympian Van der Vorst joins Rabobank women’s team

by Shane Stokes at 7:49 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Thirteen years in a wheelchair; Dutchwoman won two medals in 2008 paralympics

Monique Van der VorstFormer paralympic athlete Monique van der Vorst continues her remarkable comeback to full mobility with the confirmation that she has been given a contract with the new Rabobank women’s team for 2012.

The 27 year old Dutchwoman lost the use of her legs as a teen, with an operation to correct a leg problem at 13 years of age causing a unexpected reaction and the paralysis of her left leg. Her right leg then followed suit the next year, putting her in a wheelchair.

She competed in her first handcycle race at 15 years of age; as the name suggests, the sport is carried out by people powering the machine forward with their hands, lying in a recumbent position. Van der Vorst went on to compete at a very high level in paralympic sport, taking two silver medals in the 2008 Paralympic Games and also taking the world Ironman championships in Hawaii the following year.

She appeared destined for life in a wheelchair but in March of last year a freak accident appeared to start the recovery process. She was riding her handcycle in Majorca but was hit from behind by a cyclist, throwing her to the ground and causing her legs to spasm. She returned to training, but then had to be treated and hospitalised for severe back pain.

In June 2010, she suddenly noticed that she could feel a tingling sensation in her left foot. This then spread to her right foot, and she gradually began putting her body weight on the limbs, building strength while the sensation continued to return.

In time she was able to walk again, then took up competitive cycling. Now that remarkable path has earned her a slot with the Rabobank team, where she hopes to learn from the world’s number one. “I am completely honoured that I can develop as a cyclist with Rabobank,” she said. “This team is the best environment with lots of experience and expertise. I can learn a lot from Marianne Vos.”

Former top sprinter Jeroen Blijlevens will have a coaching role with the men’s and women’s teams and is looking forward to working with Van der Vorst. “This is a fun challenge, Monique can still learn a lot, but I'm sure the rest of the girls a lot to learn from Monique,” he said.

“She has the right attitude, will power, which she has demonstrated during her changed career in the sport. She likes cycling and we will give her our support. "

More details about the team’s line-up will be released soon.

See also: detailed interview with Monique Van der Vorst about her recovery and pro goals


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