Jockey Alberto Sanna has vowed to push through the pain barrier and return to riding in record time after shattering his hip in a freak cycling accident.
Even with an 18cm rod and screws holding his surgically reconstructed hip in place, Sanna says his recovery is more of a mental game and expects to be back in the saddle by the end of the year.
The Italian jockey, who is renowned for going to extreme lengths to be the fittest jockey in Hong Kong, fell off his road bike last month while attempting to shed weight to ride at the bottom weight of 113 pounds.
“It was on the flat, it was a nice piece of road, it was my mistake because I clipped the wheel of the guy in front of me and came off,” Sanna said of his accident on October 26.
“Things when they have to happen, they happen. It was only about 30 km/h, which isn’t that fast on a road bike, I wasn’t pushing or doing anything crazy.”
Sanna is no stranger to injuries. The journeyman has broken 19 bones in his career and says his latest road to recovery is no different to the ones he has travelled before.
Such is his pain threshold, Sanna waited in hospital for four hours without painkillers after the accident while waiting to be seen by a specialist.
“I can do it, I am very forward. A few years ago I fell off and I broke my ankle, I fell off in the race and it was a serious fracture because it was on top of the articulation … they gave me four months to heal but after 38 days I was back riding a Group Two winner,” he said.
However, last month’s fall delivered a much needed wake up call. Sanna says he will no longer push his body to extremes to ride at 113 pounds as he concedes it has made his body “fragile”.
“When I fell off I had all the examinations and blood tests, at the time I had no vitamin D or calcium because my body was under so much stress and it couldn’t produce those minerals and vitamins,” he said.
“I think what I will do now is not ride light, it doesn’t work. The week before I had the injury, I rode at 113 so I was 111 pounds. I had never been that light before. You can train hard but then you have to look after your body.”
Since his injury, Sanna says he has not watched the races or even checked the results in an attempt to keep his mind off racing while he focuses on his rehab.
The Post caught up with Sanna while he was going through the paces of his gruelling rehab schedule that sees him already back on a stationary bike along with doing hours of physiotherapy each day.
“I spoke with many doctors about my body and they talk a lot about science, but if you don’t put your mind in, I believe you will never recover,” he said.
“It’s hard because my licence is six months, so now I can’t think about that, I am just thinking about how I can get back.
“You cannot play in Hong Kong, when I am back it will be because I am very fit again and I can give the horse 100 per cent. Here it is very tactical and you have to be very fit to stay here.”
With his future up in the air, he believes that it is his willpower and mental strength that will see the Jockey Club grant him another licence next February.
“I am not scared about that because I believe I am the fittest jockey here, when I find myself fit I will be back, but I will not wait that long because I want to show the licensing committee that I am not the weakest one here,” he said. “I am the one who wants to stay here and I am the one who wants to prove themselves here.”