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When the Doctor returns from hospital

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Jennie Gow | 12:58 UK time, Friday, 16 July 2010

I was reading on the plane as we made our way to Germany for this weekend's GP that the UK is the most sickly place in Europe. We take more days off work than any other country in the EU, a staggering 180 million last year, claiming all sorts of ailments from colds to man flu, broken nails to poorly pets.

Italians must be made of tougher stuff - well, one of them is that's for sure. After just six weeks on the sidelines, reigning MotoGP world champ Valentino Rossi has decided he's had enough of watching the Italian equivalent of Jeremy Kyle and This Morning on TV and will be back at this weekend's race.

Valentino Rossi practices on the Brno Masaryk circuit
Rossi was at the Brno Masaryk circuit this week to assess his form

When Rossi was dumped so ungraciously from his Yamaha YZR-M1 at the beginning of June, smashing his tibia in the process, we all feared the worst. Would he ever ride again?

Those fears were unfounded but as reports came back from Florence, it looked like it would be up to six months before we saw Rossi back at a GP circuit.

Now, however, just 40 days after he was air lifted away from the Mugello circuit, 'The Doctor' is back looking relaxed, tanned and healthy. Quite incredible!

So what makes a man who is a millionaire many times over and a multiple world champion rush back to a sport which is one of the most physically demanding and potentially dangerous around? Well, it's not for the money or the fear that he could find himself without a ride at the end of the season, that's for sure.

Personally, I think Rossi's return has more to do with grit, determination and passion than a compulsion to perform. He could quite easily have written this season off, curled up under a duvet at home, stuffed his face with chocolate and cake and had an easy time over the next few months. But some people aren't made that way and in the pre-event press conference when asked if he was 'crazy' for returning so soon, he laughed and said five-month recoveries were for footballers not MotoGP riders.

Rossi returning to racing so soon is almost miraculous and his courage and dedication to the sport should be admired - but I say almost because he's not the first man to call on superhuman strength and courage to take to the track against all the odds.

In 1992, Mick Doohan almost lost his right leg at the Dutch TT when leading the championship by 65 points. He took eight weeks to recover and came back for the final two races of the season but lost out on the title to Yamaha rider Wayne Rainey. Two years later he won the title and kept it for five years. Some argue Doohan's injury and subsequent fight to return to action made him stronger and led him to those titles.

This is the first time in his illustrious career that Valentino Rossi has had a serious injury and it's too early to tell how his body will take to riding but if he responds the way Doohan did, he could come back better than ever - a scary thought for the rest of the MotoGP paddock.

Sure, 104 points is a massive gap to concede to your main rival, team-mate Jorge Lorenzo, who has won the last three races almost unchallenged and heads the championship standings, but Rossi is a man who has probably never pulled a sickie in his life and you'd be crazy to write him off with 11 races still to go this season.


  • 1. At 1:49pm on 16 Jul 2010, Albert Morgan - Goodbye 606 wrote:

    Game on... you can feel Jorge quaking in his boots!

    Come on Vale!!!

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  • 2. At 2:14pm on 16 Jul 2010, Fed_Borg wrote:

    This is a man who knows what he wants & is going for it. Go Rossi, you make motogp special.

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  • 3. At 2:54pm on 16 Jul 2010, Hats off to The GOATs of all Sports wrote:

    The Legend is back. Now the real fun and the excitement begins. Comeon DOC, The whole world supporting you.

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  • 4. At 3:45pm on 16 Jul 2010, StopPoliticalCorrectness wrote:

    Come on Rossi !
    After a month of watching prima donnas trip over imaginary blades of grass, it'll be good to see a proper sportsman back in the need big kahunas to ride Laguna Seca with a spongey leg, hope he gets though Sachsenring ok so we get to see that.
    .....(whispering) it has been a bit dull without him....

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  • 5. At 3:51pm on 16 Jul 2010, ulrichtheknight wrote:

    Rossi makes a good point. How long does a premiership footballer take to get over a tight hamstring, or a dead leg?
    This level of dedication and desire is rarely seen when people start to earn the big bucks. It shows that there are still some top sportsmen who are more interested in competing than buying Bentleys.

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  • 6. At 3:57pm on 16 Jul 2010, physical_graffiti wrote:

    The thing with sport is that there is a greater cause than working for most other companies, and therefore motivation is far greater when you're gunning for a title or even a specific goal.

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  • 7. At 4:16pm on 16 Jul 2010, MacauBlue wrote:

    There's only one reason why Rossi is stupid enough to come back before his leg has fully healed (if that's the case)… and that's EGO! He just cannot cope with the thought of Lorenzo winning the crown for Yamaha, especially as Jorge was starting to show him the way before his crash. What a shame Lorenzo's ego is equally huge.

    And as for the ridiculous comparison with footballers. Football is ALL about the use of their legs… have you ever tried running flat out with a hamstring injury?

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  • 8. At 4:29pm on 16 Jul 2010, RadleyRanger wrote:

    The Doctor is back....... Thank god it was boring without him.

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  • 9. At 4:46pm on 16 Jul 2010, Iain Farrell wrote:

    But more to the point Jennie tell us about your CBT. 6 weeks you could be out there too! ;)

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  • 10. At 5:23pm on 16 Jul 2010, Russell wrote:

    I don't think MotoGP has been boring without Rossi, it's just the competitiveness has been ever so slightly further down the field - scraps for 3rd and 4th have been outstanding.
    We're so used to the most entertaining stuff being right at the front.

    And if I may - there isn't much point arguing about the difference between a footballing injury and a motorcycle crash - the strains on the muscles are not the same.

    That said, I can think of plenty of circumstances where a footballer has taken an absolute age to get over a break, whereas Vale has obviously taken very little time.
    And I can think of plenty of occaisions recently when footballers who have received soft tackles have gone down and looked in considerably more pain than Vale was after getting thrown from his bike...

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  • 11. At 5:37pm on 16 Jul 2010, Rachel Healey wrote:

    Big Lorenzo fan but so glad Rossi is back. Will make it much more interesting and Jorge will have to up his game a bit! Love Rossi's comment about how five month recoveries are for footballers. No rolling around on the ground, cheating and generally acting the maggot for Motogp riders!

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  • 12. At 11:39pm on 16 Jul 2010, daggersfan3 wrote:

    Good for him :D Just give him 3 races to get back up to speed and we will hopefully have quality racing for the lead again.

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  • 13. At 11:34am on 17 Jul 2010, endofcity wrote:

    "When Rossi was dumped so ungraciously from his Yamaha YZR-M1 at the beginning of June, smashing his tibia in the process, we all feared the worst. Would he ever ride again?"

    No we didn't. Pretty much every rider on the grid has hurt themselves or fallen off at some point and the last thing anybody who really understands MotoGP would think is 'would he ever ride again'.

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  • 14. At 12:15pm on 17 Jul 2010, imanol wrote:

    Vaelntino is the best rider ever, just out of this world, but one thing is to qualify and another one to compite. We'll see how superhuman he is when it comes the second half of the race. I still feel not even il dottore gonna threaten jorge.

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  • 15. At 12:51pm on 17 Jul 2010, Angelo1988 wrote:

    At 'MacauBlue'...."There's only one reason why Rossi is stupid enough to come back before his leg has fully healed (if that's the case)… and that's EGO!" How can you say Rossi has an EGO, hes won titles in every class there is to win in Moto GP and deserves to be labelled as the best rider in the history of the sport. Watching Rossi is entertaining and even if he doesnt win a race, hes never disrespectful to his opponent like a so called big ego would be. Obviously your watching the wrong sport, I mean look at the England football team, they got an even bigger EGO and they are useless.

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  • 16. At 2:30pm on 17 Jul 2010, Mr Wonderful wrote:

    You're quite right Jenny, having to watch Italian evening TV would get anyone out of their sickbed, so I can hardly imagine what their daytime TV would do to you! Far more painful than a broken leg!

    You can tell how badly it's affected Rossi, as he's managed 5th on the grid trying to get away from it - well done Vale, superb as usual.

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  • 17. At 9:06pm on 17 Jul 2010, Mick Corbett wrote:

    Bike riders are made of stern stuff & speed is their fix. Vale has been riding since he was 6 & admits to missing his bike. He is a driven man anyway, like all world class sports people. You cannot hope to get to the top & stay there unless you have an inner drive that is beyond most mortals understanding. There is a long list of riders who have come back from really serious injuries over the years, our own Barry Sheene (RIP) is amongst them.
    I enjoy your blogs Jenny, ignore the knockers, you bring a certain freshness & enthusiasm to Motogp coverage. Thank you.

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  • 18. At 10:42am on 18 Jul 2010, rocketman666 wrote:

    Yes it is certainly great that Rossi is back, but i'm afraid all you Rossi fans should admit to yourself that he will never win a world title again, especially not on a Ducati. Lorenzo is an unreal talent but none of you stubborn Rossi fans will admit it. But as to my favourite, it’s got to be stoner. That boy has the biggest balls out there. Nobody has been able to ride the Ducati apart from him. The bike is way behind the Yamahas and Hondas in terms of handling. With him on a Honda next year you are going to see the changing of the guard. Just remember one thing; one sure thing in life is that we all grow old. Bye Bye Rossi. C'mon Spies

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  • 19. At 02:24am on 19 Jul 2010, MartinKillips wrote:

    Motor cycle racing, across all disciplines, has a history of its riders showing true grit and single-minded focus in adversity. Riding with painful injuries is almost an accepted fact in this sport. This is partly of course because bike racers are immensely competitive people, but it is also the nature of the sport. This is no team game - it is individual riders pitting themselves against other riders. There's only room for one on a race bike! Sure, they are supported by a team of engineers and designers, but the real test is on the track on race day. And any race missed through injury is allowing your rivals to pull ahead. So you have little choice but to have a pain-killing injection and sling your leg over the saddle and try and save some of those valuable points.

    I enjoy all kinds of sports, but the best of them, in terms of sheer courage and single minded focus, is bike racing.

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  • 20. At 03:38am on 19 Jul 2010, MartinKillips wrote:

    rocketman666 shows he knows nothing about bike racing. Admittedly, Rossi is taking a chance going to Ducati next year, but he has demonstrated before that he can move to a new manufacturer and win the championship. And Rossi is no ordinary rider...he's certainly one of the top three riders of all time. There is no doubting that Lorenzo is brilliant, but he has still got to win a few more championships and stay healthy in the process. This season Lorenzo has been excellent, but he does have a history of crashing and injuring himself, whereas Rossi's broken leg is the first serious injury he's had in fourteen years racing.

    Stoner is excellent, but he would never match Lorenzo on the same machinery. Spies shows promise, but so far has yet to prove it on the world stage - a Superbike Championship is not MotoGP.

    Rossi along with the maestro Jeremy Burgess working on the bike, he's almost a shoe-in for next year's championship.

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  • 21. At 9:30pm on 24 Jul 2010, Ian wrote:

    What most contributors have failed to mention is that 'Il Dottore' developed the Yamaha from a mid-field bike to a championship winner, he did the same at Honda. Where did their development go when he left? Will he do the same at Ducati? Next season will tell! Yes, Jorge is a fabulous rider, but is he technical enough to continue developing the Yamaha after Vale moves on? Vale has still got that burning ambition to succeed, long may it continue.

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  • 22. At 10:45pm on 25 Jul 2010, Woolster wrote:

    When are the BBC going to replace these presenters, they are shockers.

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  • 23. At 1:36pm on 26 Jul 2010, fazer_thou wrote:

    Mick Corbett wrote:
    "I enjoy your blogs Jenny, ignore the knockers, you bring a certain freshness & enthusiasm to Motogp coverage. Thank you."

    I'm not sure Jenny should ignore her knockers...

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  • 24. At 11:47am on 02 Aug 2010, motogpsham wrote:

    I think Jennie Gow is an invaluable asset to BBC MOTOGP coverage, her in-depth knowledge of the sport not to mention the close rapport she has built up with the top riders with her superbly professional approach makes the show what it is.

    Even Carmelo Ezpeleta was impressed with her commentary, commenting that she does a "wonderfully fantastic" job for the BBC, what better recommendation. So those of you who have questioned Ms. Gow's performance should be ashamed.

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