Heptathlete-turned-bobsledder has made a return to competitive action after a career-threatening injury
When heptathlete Serita Shone fractured her spine in a bobsleigh crash last November, it was feared that her injuries would not only be careerthreatening, but could also have affected her day-to-day life. But almost six months to the day of the horrific crash, Shone is back competing.
Shone, the 2007 English Schools heptathlon champion, turned her hand to bobsleigh last year with the aim of qualifying for the 2014 Winter Olympics. The talented all-rounder took naturally to the new sport and swiftly made her way up the national rankings.
But last October during a practice run with Fiona Harrison, another former heptathlete, at the British Championships in the German town of Winterberg, the sled overturned. It left Shone, the brakewoman, with a fractured spine and Harrison, the driver, with head injuries.
Harrison was released from hospital after tests, while Shone was observed for longer. But after just a week Shone was able to get back on her feet again, and she continued to make a surprising, but steady, recovery.
Her goals for the Winter Games may have been put on hold, but Shone was able to sample an Olympic experience when she competed in the shot in the Olympic Stadium at the BUCS Championships in London last month – her first competition in either sport since her crash.
“I spoke to my surgeon a few weeks ago and he said that I’d be okay to start back, so I’ve been doing a few shot sessions since then,” said Shone, who threw 12.29m – just 23 centimetres shy of her PB. “Next thing I know, I’m competing at the Olympic stadium. I can’t believe it!
“At the moment I’m just doing light training for the shot because I know I can get away with not having to push my body too hard in that event and can rely more on my technique. Hopefully at some point in the near future I’ll make a return to the heptathlon.
“For the first week after the accident, I definitely thought I wouldn’t be able to compete in either sport again,” added Shone, who recently turned 23. “But then I made sure I carried out every step of my rehab and I made a good recovery.”
Shone is one of many athletes to have dabbled in winter sports. Marcus Adam, the 1990 Commonwealth 200m champion, finished 10th in the two-man bobsleigh at the 2002 Winter Olympics, 10 years after competing at the summer Games in Barcelona.
Fellow sprinters Allyn Condon, Katherine Endacott and Joel Fearon are currently active in the bobsleigh, while former heptathlete Nicola Minichiello and former long jumper Gillian Cooke won gold in the two-woman bobsleigh at the 2009 FIBT World Championships. Amy Williams, winner of the skeleton at the 2010 Winter Olympics, is a former 400m runner.
Shone, meanwhile, plans to return to the bobsleigh long-term, providing she gets the all-clear following her nine-month scan later this year.
“It works out quite well because most of the training for that is during the winter,” she said. “If I can be given the all-clear, it would be a nice Christmas present.
“I was closer to being world-class in the bobsleigh. I was ranked high nationally and was on the brink of getting a European qualifier, but I kept being set back by injury,” she added. “I was hoping for one good year of being injury-free to make a breakthrough and qualify for an Olympic team.”