Stickybottle

Video: This was Steele von Hoff (with 6 spine fractures) just weeks ago

Posted on: April 14th, 2018

Steele von Hoff spine fractures gold

Steele von Hoff broke four vertebrae just weeks ago. He trained on a recliner, then upright on the road in a brace. Today he won Commonwealth Games gold; determination personified.

 

Steele von Hoff turns six spine fractures into gold in weeks

 

Just seven weeks ago, and only hours after being named in the Australia team for the Commonwealth Games, Steele von Hoff was in accident and emergency.

He crashed in a Tuesday night club criterium in Melbourne and fractured six vertebrae; four in his back and two in his neck.

It looked like he wouldn’t be lining out in his first major Games aged 30 years.

But von Hoff, a former WorldTour rider now competing domestically with Bennelong SwissWellness, refused to give up.

Despite his smashed up spine, von Hoff decided to keep his hand in with his training; first in a recliner.

And once he kept pedaling he was still in the game. He then progressed to a mountain bike; which gave him an upright position for his back.

He further stabilised himself by training in that upright position with a neck brace on. And, finally, he was fit enough and healthy enough to confirm his place in the Commonwealth Games road race.

 

 

That men’s road race took place today. And at the finish von Hoff won the sprint for victory; claiming a famous gold medal and leading to endless ‘Man of Steele’ news story headlines.

Before the race today, he explained how the build-up played out after his high speed crash.

“Things were looking a bit grim but I didn’t want to give up,” said von Hoff, who raced for three seasons for Garmin-Sharp and in the UK for NFTO and One Pro Cycling.

“I was in the hospital for two nights. Then I was in a neck brace for 2½ weeks. But I ended up only having six days off the bike before I was back on the ergo,” he added of his home trainer.

“I started off on a recumbent bike that I had made many years ago just to get the legs spinning again.

“It’s a stationary bike that you lie down in. So it doesn’t put any pressure on my back.

“I used to race these recumbent bikes. So I sourced that bike that I’d made many moons ago.

“And I rode that for three days before I graduated to stationary trainer for another week. Then I cracked and got out on the road.

“I got busted by my dad, who just so happened to be coming home at the same time I was heading out. And mum wasn’t impressed. But geez it was good to get the wind in your hair again.”

After today’s gold medal win he explained just how it felt to come back from such adversity, so recently, to be crowned champion.

“I said in the team meeting ‘look I’m not confident, there are a few fast guys here’. And it was my job to mark one of them,” he said.

 

Confidence high in closing stages

Von Hoff looked around when the lead group whittled right down; Northern Ireland’s Mark Downey one of them. And he felt he had a great chance, especially with Cameron Mayer leading him out.

“A few people kept saying ‘gee you’re looking good Steele’,” he said. “And Mat Hayman was in my ear saying ‘you’ve got this’.

“With 150m to go I thought ‘I’ve actually got some pace here, I could win this’. And the reaction of the crowd told me I’d got the gold.

“I don’t think it’s even sunk in and absorbed yet. The realisation will probably hit tonight that I’ve actually done it.”

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