Alcott: Funding blow 'stab in back'

Mon, 28 Nov 11:01:00 2011

Britain's top skier Chemmy Alcott described the withdrawal of funding for her sport as a "stab in the back" as she tries to recover from serious injury.

ALPINE SKIING Chemmy Alcott of Great Britain - 0

Alcott, 29, is Britain’s only world-class Alpine racer and was ranked eighth in the world when she suffered a horrific leg break at the Lake Louise World Cup meet in December last year.

Soon afterwards Government funding for Britain’s skiers was withdrawn - SnowsportGB went into administration the year before, and athletes were receiving help from the BOA and UK Sport.

That left Alcott, Britain’s only genuinely competitive skier, struggling to make ends meet when she needed it most.

"Already it’s the toughest journey I’ve been through. I was ranked eighth in the world with a really good right leg and funding. Now I have no funding and a right leg that I need to give a lot of loving to," Alcott told Eurosport.

"But I will never retire on a crash. I was the only British skier bringing in money, so I was their only athlete, making it quite personal when they cut funding for the sport as a whole.

"When it was taken away from British skiing it was my money. While it was only part of the overall cost, it felt like a stab in the back - I had shattered my leg competing for my country and a week later I’m told I’m not needed."

All is not lost for Alcott though, who explained that - thanks in part to social media - she has been able to get support outside of Britain’s sports administrators.

"Since then others have been brilliant - a centre at Piccadilly circus has looked after my rehab, I have a personal physical trainer for the first time and better support than before," she said.

"I’ve been out for 300 days and I have gadgets all over my room - my twitter account is the reason for all these toys. When I explained my injuries people sent me stuff to get me in action as quickly as possible. I was given an ice machine, a muscle spin, all kinds of stuff.

"I am convinced I will get to the top of my sport again without UK sport, and it will be really satisfying when I do."

Alcott has suffered serious injuries in the past, including a broken neck aged 12 and, more recently, a broken ankle.

Now approaching the latter stages of her career, she is well aware that recovering from such a bad break may be tougher than anything she has experienced - but she refuses to quit off the back of an injury, and is determined to compete next season.

"I really wish I was able to just retire after this crash - and I would if I didn’t have such a love for the sport. But I wouldn’t be as ballsy as I am if I didn’t take this chance," she added.

"I love what I do and I owe it to myself to come back. You have the rest of your life to retire. I am putting my life in this crazy mess of athleticism for three years and I’ve done it all my life."

Alcott’s plan is to compete at the 2014 Winter Olympics, where she aims to improve on her previous best finishes just outside the top 10, and after then she has a clear idea of where her career will take her - the life of an adventurer and explorer.

"There are enough guys on TV doing that abut not girls and there is a gap in the market. I have the credentials to do it as I am a bit of a nutter and have earned respect for what I have done in skiing," she said.

"I am going to have to start off with a mountain as that’s where I come from, but there’s a lot of things I want to do. The feminist inside me wants to challenge the notion that it’s a man’s world and ask why there are things a woman can’t do."

First though she will have to complete her recovery from injury, and she expects to be back skiing soon and at a competitive level by spring.

"I’m having physio and Gyrotonics - which is a circular Pilates - as I continue my rehab from the broken leg," she revealed. "I'm getting quite a lot of pain where the metalwork ends, and I have to twist the tibia while skiing. I can do anything - like overhead squatting with 80kg - and am fine, but anything that involves pressuring legs underneath me is hugely painful.

"My next step is to wait until my leg looks normal - my right broken leg is one centimetre longer than my healthy one.

"I’m using a CMF bone healer which sends tiny vibrations through broken bones, stimulating them to heal together in a cage. My fib was where most of the shattering was, and I can’t get my new boots until my bone is semi-normal.

"As soon as I get my boot made, which is end of December beginning of January, I will initially ski to re-learn how to use my leg in a non-competitive situation, because areas of my leg will be numb and I will have to learn to use them in that context again.

"So after three months of skiing for ‘fun’ and I should hopefully be able to ski competitively by spring. I’ve had some bad injuries before, but this is going to be the biggest challenge I have faced."

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Chemmy Alcott was speaking to us to celebrate the launch of Kinect Sports: Season 2 for Xbox 360.

She said: "I’ve been playing Kinect skiing, which was the first semi-competitive skiing type thing I’d done since injuring myself. I was challenging everyone, I even challenged my postman who wouldn’t believe that I was actually doing anything skiing related until I invited him in. I really like the concept of active gaming that allows you to engage and compete physically while playing. It’s a new dimension to gaming that exposes people to, say, skiing in their living room. It’s the first skiing game I’ve been good at which is why I think I like it so much!"

Reda Maher on Twitter @Reda_Maher / Eurosport

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