Reuters - Thu, 11 Feb 17:37:00 2010
Five months ago J.R Celski was staring at the blood gushing out of the six-inch gash on his leg after he sliced himself with his razor-sharp skate, now the American short track speed skater is eyeing an Olympic medal.
The 19-year-old was lucky to miss a major artery when he fell and severed through to the bone in his thigh during September's Olympic trials and joined a long list of casualties of the dangerous and chaotic sport.
"This is my first race this year internationally," said Celski, the 2009 overall world silver medallist.
"I'm pretty psyched to be here but just recovering from this injury has taken a lot out of me. I'd say I'm about 90-95 per cent but I've been training hard and hopefully everything will fall into place."
His team mate Apolo Anton Ohno said Celski had done well to come back after the accident.
"It takes a lot out of you mentally and physically when you have that type of injury. Luckily he is young enough to be able to heal quickly and luckily enough he didn't hit major arteries, it was a clean cut," he said.
"We are in a very dangerous sport, we are skating 40 miles an hour with basically 18-inch knives on our feet, inches away from the guy in front or behind you."
Pools of blood on the ice and gruesome injuries are common in the sport, with Celski's team mate Jordan Malone speaking earlier this week of his own catalogue of problems.
"I have had 15 broken bones. I have four titanium plates and 16 screws in my face from an injury," he said.
"I tore my anterior cruciate ligament three months ago so I'm skating on an injury. But it's what makes me, me. It's a test of my character every time. Injury doesn't bog me down. It shows who I am and makes me stronger."