Sarah Lee Wai-sze

Sarah Lee and the cycling world shocked that Germany’s Olympic champion Kristina Vogel won’t walk again after crash

The 27-year-old Rio Olympic champion is paralysed from the chest down after suffering spinal injuries following a crash during training in June

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 08 September, 2018, 5:53pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 11 September, 2018, 10:39am

Hong Kong track star Sarah Lee Wai-sze has been left devastated by the news that her great friend and rival, Kristina Vogel, will never walk again after suffering a horrific crash in June.

Lee had been praying for Vogel, the 2016 Rio Olympic women’s sprint champion, to pull through following a horrific crash that left the German with serious spinal injuries and she was extremely upset upon knowing that Vogel won’t be able to use her legs again after the accident left her with a severed spinal cord.

Lee took to social media in July to support the German who had to be airlifted to hospital in Berlin after colliding with another cyclist while training at the Cottbus Sport Centre Velodrome in June.

Although the Hong Kong heroine hasn’t taken to Facebook yet, it is understood she is saddened that the 27-year-old German will never ride or walk again with news shocking the cycling world.

The 31-year-old Lee, who recently bagged two Asian Games gold medals in Jakarta to extend her record-breaking gold medal success at the Games, has competed numerous times against the German, most famously when she was beaten by Vogel in the quarter-finals of the women’s individual sprint at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Lee said Vogel’s injury was the “biggest loss” in track cycling.

“I always considered Vogel my strongest rival. I feel really sorry that I will never compete against her again.”

In July, Lee was extremely saddened to hear of Vogel’s accident saying: “I cried when I heard the news. I was very, very down and everybody has been so worried about her.

“I can’t believe this has happened,” Lee continued in her posting. “I even recommended some nice places to go [in Germany] to her but she’s now not here. We may be rivals on the track but off it, we are good friends.”

Vogel took the devastating news in her stride, telling Germany magazine, Der Spiegel, that she would have to “deal with it”.

“It is sh**, there’s no other way to put it. No matter how you package it, I can’t walk any more,” Der Spiegel quoted her as saying on Friday. “But I believe that the sooner you accept a new situation, the sooner you learn to deal with it.”

The German had previously suffered serious injuries when she was hit by a minibus in 2009, being placed in a medically induced coma, but battled back to win Olympic gold in the track cycling team sprint at London in 2012.

At the Rio Olympics four years later she won gold in the individual sprint despite her saddle breaking at 60km/h in the closing metres of the final.

Please God have mercy: Hong Kong cycling queen Sarah Lee prays for seriously injured friend and rival Kristina Vogel

Vogel has won 11 world titles – a record she shares with Australian great Anna Meares. She also has three European golds.

Governing body the UCI issued a statement on Friday.

“The UCI would like to express its sympathy and support to Kristina Vogel in the difficult times she has encountered since her accident at the Cottbus Velodrome in June.

“Kristina has not been able to use her legs since the accident, leaving her unable to walk and, naturally, preventing her from resuming her sporting career.

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“This is a sad situation for track cycling and the sport. Her determination and good humour are well known and appreciated by all, and we at the UCI have no doubt she will make full use of these remarkable qualities in her rehabilitation.”

Additional reporting by Reuters