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“How many times have we played the game and won?”

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As many people will have heard, Fabien Barel, downhill legend, has broken his femur in a high speed training accident in the south of France. This has put a premature end to his World Cup campaign for 2010 and is a huge blow, especially given that he was entering this season looking to be on fantastic form. Fabien also broke his wrist in the accident and suffered a severe concussion, leaving him unconscious for quarter of an hour.
Fabien’s account of the accident and the aftermath is a truly inspiring insight into how mentally tough you have to be to race at this level. Read the full account after the break.

Injuries are part of the game….A text experienced and written by FAB

Downhill is a dangerous sport. We calculate every detail to reach our limits without crossing them. But our mind set and our physical shape are both parameters that get in the equation. Because we are different people everyday, different than yesterday and different than tomorrow, the risks we are taking are part of the game…

Friday morning, beautiful sunshine is shining through the olive trees in the south of France. The rain from the day before is brightening all the colours of nature. We have 4 days before we leave for the first world cup in Maribor, Slovenia. I am just coming off of a week of resting to be at full energy, and I am going for few runs of fun with Aurélien and Paul in a track we love in Sospel. High speed, rocks, bumps and a good grip. We do a couple runs and on the 6th one, I stop in front of Aurélien to explain to him the flow of the following section. I told him :”the grip is excellent, we can accept to brake late and use the gravity to accelerate the bike out of the corner”…

I remember few more corners and then it is a complete black out…

I am in a really clear room, lots of noises, many people talking all at same time. I cannot really recognize anyone until I see my mum coming to me. Her face is tired and shocked. I just say a few words to tell her that I was fine, all is good. I tried to move myself and could not really. My leg is massive and all blue, my head feels really heavy and I am so dizzy that I feel just like I have been hit by a truck. The next faces I see are Aurélien and Paul. Paul, who is normally not very expressive, has a sincere look of worry on his face. They both look like something terrible happened.

I can see a doctor leaning toward me and describing me what has happened and what was going to happen: “ Fabien, you broke your Femur, you need to have surgery to fix it” and then, all goes black again.

The light comes back into my eyes and I see my parents sitting on the front of the bed. They stand up immediately to be close to me. They tell me the entire story..15 minutes knocked out, the drugs they gave me to release the pain, the helicopter that brought me to the hospital, and finally the surgery.

I am now in front of my computer on my couch with a 40cm titanium nail drilled into my leg and a broken wrist.

My dreams, hard work and all the preparations of the last 6 months has flown away in less than 5 seconds. The first and natural attitude is to ask myself: WHY?

So much effort destroyed, feeling so good and then it is gone… it is easy to think that life is terrible but if you are realistic, you must ask this: how many times have we played the game and won? I am not allowed to complain.

One of the main rules of our sport is that we can fall at any moment and we would be surprised to see how many times we arrive at the bottom safely! I am enjoying every finish line like a victory. This adrenaline, head on fire at 50k an hour down the mountain is filling me of happiness…

And falling is part of the game!

So for sure, it is bad timing, but I will stand up, walk forward, my eyes towards new goals. Why would I do that after so many injuries and challenges:

Because, I am loving it!

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