Up-and-coming American professional triathlete Lukas Verzbicas suffered an intense crash on his bike while riding in Colorado Springs, Colo., on July 31. Verzbicas talked to Competitor Radio’s Bob Babbitt on Monday, Aug. 14, about the crash and his road to recovery.
“It was a beautiful day out here in Colorado Springs,” he explained to Babbitt. “We were doing a ride with intervals but nothing too hard. It was hilly and we weren’t going too fast, but putting in some good efforts. It was me and a few other Triathlon Academy athletes, and we got to the last lap and I was going downhill and I had a sharp turn ahead and I got caught up in some wet sand because there was rain the night before. I kind of lost control of my bike and I tried to brake, but they didn’t do the job in the sand. I went straight into the barrier. I’ve been in the hospital ever since.”
Verzbicas suffered several injuries, including a broken thorax, two broken vertebrae, a broken clavicle and a partially collapsed lung. In the past two weeks, Verbicas has undergone several surgeries and has had two rods put into his back to stabilize his spine and screws in his clavicle. The surgery on his back resulted in some tense moments when he couldn’t move his right leg post-op.
“After my back surgery I had some sensation in my right leg, but I couldn’t move it,” he said. “That was because my spine had been worked on a little bit. Right before my clavicle surgery I noticed I was able to start moving my right leg. Thank God. I’m going to keep moving more and more until eventually all of my nerves are reconnected and my body is fully back.”
He had planned to return to Europe this fall for some ITU races but instead will stay in the hospital for a few more weeks for rehab and will re-learn basic skills, like how to walk.
“For now, it’s really just staying on top of things and making sure I don’t get too down,” he explained. “A lot of people, I feel like, they really just give up when something serious happens. You should never do that. There’s always an answer and there’s always a solution as long as you really want it and put your head to it and work your ass off you’ll get there. I want to prove to people that no matter what happens to you, you can overcome it and do great things and inspire other people. That’s my goal. I realize this is a life-changing experience. I’m going to come back a different person, and hopefully I’ll be even better.”
For more on the crash, his injuries and his future, listen to the complete interview at Competitorradio.com.