Isle of Man TT: Hamilton still smiling after high-speed TT crash in 2015

Hamilton crashed during the 2015 Isle of Man TT Senior race, coming off his Superbike at Cronk-y-Voddy
Hamilton crashed during the 2015 Isle of Man TT Senior race, coming off his Superbike at Cronk-y-Voddy

"I took out a lot of trees, I got hit by a bike on the road and hit a signpost - my bike was a 170mph fireball, I shouldn't be here to talk about it."

That's an understatement to say the least from County Antrim rider Jamie Hamilton.

Four years ago, he crashed during the the Isle of Man TT Senior Race, resulting in head, leg and arm injuries which left him in a critical condition.

Despite still suffering the effects from the crash, the 28-year-old is determined to make the most of life.

"I've been given a second chance," said Hamilton. "I've been dead before, and trust me, this is a better situation than that."

"But I do miss the racing and it's hard when I do go and watch it. Seeing all the racers who I felt I was as good as, or even better than, do well is a bit tough to take sometimes."

'Just amputate it'

A cage on his right leg has become a part of Hamilton's life. He's had four cages in the four years since his accident after complications with the healing process.

"I keep getting it off and then it keeps re-breaking," he adds. "It's been a big problem with the bone infection and it's been a struggle."

Hamilton says his leg broke a week after his third cage was removed in September, going untreated until the end of November when his surgeon came back from working abroad.

Jamie Hamilton and Ian Hutchinson
Sixteen-time Isle of Man TT winner Ian Hutchinson suggested the same doctor to Hamilton who treated his own leg injuries

"If I lay in bed and lifted my leg up then it would have bent in the middle. I only had crutches so people didn't know how badly broken it actually was."

In February his leg looked like it wasn't healing, with Hamilton admitting he told his surgeon to "just amputate the leg", but he's glad he took the medical advice to stick with the cage.

"A couple of months down the line I had another x-ray and he said it was looking pretty close to being healed. I got an additional CT scan and it still looks like it was joined."

Cage warrior

Hamilton says he is due to get the cage off again soon, and he's hoping his race number will be a good omen.

He said: "My lucky number was four and my race number was 44. My crash was four years ago and I've had four cages, so the whole 44 thing is coming into play.

"It's probably the biggest load of rubbish but when you've been going this long you need something to keep you going.

"It scares me getting it off now. Everyone says I must be looking forward to getting it off, but in my head getting it off is only a bad thing because it keeps breaking.

Jamie Hamilton at the 2015 North West 200
Four years, four cages - Hamilton hopes his lucky race number is a good omen for his recovery

"With the cage I'm able to walk and I'm active, so when I get it off it always puts me a few steps back again.

"A cage only lasts a year or so and I know I can't keep it on forever. The doctor knows it is healing, he knows a lot more than me so I'll trust him.

"I thought if I got it amputated then I might be walking on a prosthetic leg and getting on with the rest of my life, but now it looks like it's healing I'm glad I stuck with it."

'I'm not sick, I'm just broken'

"Once my leg is sorted I'm going to need an operation on my foot," said Hamilton on what lies ahead for his recovery.

"My ankle will also need broken and straightened again which is more pain down the line, but I know if I get my leg fixed then I'll be able to live a better quality of life.

"If you lie about all day then you feel sorry for yourself. I keep getting up every morning and stay active and on the move. I'm not sick, I'm just broken.

Jamie Hamilton during the 2015 Isle of Man TT Senior Race
Never say never? Hamilton says he would consider a racing return but only if he knew he could win a TT race

"I have to get back on a bike again, even if it isn't to race, I'd only return if I knew I could win a TT.

"The goal posts are moving further away with everyone going faster and faster, so I know I would have to be on top form.

"I'll have a go on a motorbike and see if I believe I can do it, and if I don't then I'll just set different goals and achieve something else in life.

"Whenever I raced, bikes were the be all and end all, I just couldn't see how anyone could live a life without racing motorbikes, but now I see there is more to life."

Keeping positive

Hamilton suffered a frontal lobe contusion in the crash, which has affected his memory.

"It goes patchy about 2012 or 2013, I can only really remember bits and pieces from there," he admits. "I can remember things about the Isle of Man that year, like where I parked my lorry.

"If I drive into a car park, I might not remember being there before, but I could almost tell you exactly where I parked.

Jamie Hamilton and Jeremy McWilliams
Hamilton has achieved podium finishes at the North West 200 and Ulster Grand Prix

"I'm not going to complain about not remembering a conversation, or having a sore foot. I can't feel all my fingers on my right hand or straighten my arm on the right side, but it's not the end of the world.

"But I'll never complain, I'm probably the positive talker among all my friends - but that's what gets me through. There are people a lot worse off than I am.

"I don't like dwelling on a negative of the crash, but the positive is surviving it and seeing what I'm capable of achieving in the future.

"I can't change what happened. I have a way of dealing with it, I'm still smiling and whatever I'm doing is obviously working."