Serita Shone set for competitive British Bobsleigh return

Serita Shone will complete her remarkable comeback from a fractured spine by competing at the GB Bobsleigh Championships in Austria this weekend.

The 23-year-old from Weymouth has amazed doctors by recovering from a huge crash while training in Germany.

Having been told 17 months ago she may never walk again, Shone will be the pilot on Saturday with Sian Huxtable as brakewoman.

"It's one of those things I thought might never happen," Shone admitted.

"To actually be here and a bobsleigh athlete again is fantastic.

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I'd never write Sochi off, but hopefully Pyeongchang 2018 will become more realistic in the next few years

Serita Shone

"There's always going to be nerves and I was a little bit scared and worried before my first training runs, but I had to put it behind me and focus on the job at hand."

The former heptathlete fractured her L1 and L2 vertebrae in her lower back in the crash that happened in Winterberg ahead of the 2011 British Championships.

The sport's performance director Gary Anderson has been hugely impressed by her recovery.

"It's an exceptional effort from Serita to be where she is currently because less than 18 months ago I was having conversations with the doctors in Germany about an athlete who may never walk again," he told BBC Sport.

"I am delighted for Serita and credit must go to the staff who have supported her through this very difficult period."

Shone has worked extensively with psychologists since the crash and, in keeping with a desire to take greater responsibility, has switched from the role of brakewoman to pilot.

"When I came into the sport I had an idea that I wanted to pilot because I used to kart race and have been around motorsport since I was child so it was more of a natural feeling," Shone told BBC Sport.

"The plus side of being at the front is I'm in control of my own destiny."

Shone will continue to split her time between the universities of Bath and Loughborough during the summer as she steps up her preparations ahead of the new season, when she hopes to make her British international debut.

Shone returns to training after spine fracture

"I'm hoping to race on the Europa Cup or America's Cup circuit next season so I have to work hard, keep my sprint times coming down and weight going up then prove myself to the people I need to impress in order to get selected."

Shone admits that with the British squad boasting strong talent in the form of 2009 World Champion Gillian Cooke, her pilot Paula Walker and Youth Olympic silver medallist Mica McNeil, qualifying for Sochi will be a tall order.

However, now fully recovered from the injury which threatened to end her involvement in the sport she is planning a long-term bobsleigh career.

"I'm not rating myself against those people yet because I haven't had the experience they have, so on that front they aren't my competition, I am my own competition," stated Shone.

"There is always a chance [of reaching Sochi] but because you need to race in a number of events and gain points and gain selection that will be difficult with the time I have had off.

"I'd never write Sochi off, but hopefully [Pyeongchang] 2018 will become more realistic in the next few years."