'I'm in constant pain' - Laverty still living in fast lane despite crash injuries

The Laverty motorcycling dynasty - Toomebridge brothers Eugene, John and Michael
The Laverty motorcycling dynasty - Toomebridge brothers Eugene, John and Michael

John Laverty continually swivels an ankle as we exchange pleasantries while watching our sons go through their paces at a training session for a youth football team.

I never noticed it and this almost unconscious action, to ensure the joint is kept fluid, is a constant reminder of a devastating crash which almost took John's life eight years ago at Oulton Park.

The former British short-circuit champion, one of three Toomebridge brothers in the sport, was on the critical list with a broken body which required four plates and 30 screws to keep together.

John pulled through and after an amazingly quick recovery he made a brief and frustrating return to track action before receiving a tantalising job offer.

His younger brother Eugene, competing in the World Superbike Championship, wanted John to become his personal manager - globe-trotting fixer, contract maker and sponsorship getter among his many roles.

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Watch: Laverty injured in high-speed crash in 2011

It required something special to replace the adrenalin fix of high-speed competition but John has found his perfect job.

"I had the option of still being involved in the sport while also helping my brother, so it was not a really hard decision," said the 36-year-old.

"A lot of people find that bit hard (being out of racing) but I'm still connected with it and now get the highs and lows through Eugene.

"The championship is like a travelling circus from one country to another. Eugene is the boss and I bring all options to him - what teams are available, what money is available, what helmets and leathers to wear.

"I'm definitely more nervous watching Eugene than when I was racing. I didn't have that feeling of nervous sickness when I was racing, but I do now.

"I suppose that's how my mother felt watching the three of us and hence why she has a full head of white hair!"

Child's play

Michael, a former British Supersport champion, is the other Laverty sibling with two-wheel competition in his veins, and they all started young, very young.

John was just four when took to the lawn on board a little automatic - it was a house full of bikes thanks to father Mickey, a former road and short-circuit racer.

Six years later John began his competitive career but on parental orders it would be limited to short-circuits, not the more dangerous road racing.

However, John was to find out that any form of racing comes with a considerable risk of serious injury or death.

He escaped injury in a spectacular crash in 2005 when he "cart-wheeled and went head-over-heels, the fuel tank went on fire and the bike was in bits".

John escapes injury as his bike tumbles in the 2005 crash which also occurred at Oulton Park
John is flung into the air as his bike tumbles in the 2005 crash which also occurred at Oulton Park

He added: "I got straight up, up a grass bank and onto a bridge with cars coming before sprinting back to the pits, onto a spare bike and out again - if you told someone that they would probably think you were mentally unstable."

Success in the British Superbike Cup Championship came three years later but John's life would be changed forever at Oulton Park in 2011.

A brake failure resulted in a thundering 130mph collision into a barrier. John struck it feet first - this saved his life for he bluntly states "I would have been killed" if his head had taken the brunt of the impact.

John survived, but only just, with both feet and shoulders broken along with multiple bones in between including "my back being shattered as if someone hit it with sledgehammer".

Internal bleeding necessitated blood transfusions and a long hospital stay was followed by three months in a wheelchair and a bespoke, hi-tech rehabilitation programme included exercises on a NASA designed treadmill used to train astronauts.

John recovering in a Liverpool hospital following the Oulton Park crash
John recovering in a Liverpool hospital following the Oulton Park crash

John set a target of dancing with sister at her wedding just four months after the crash. He said: "I was stiff and sore but I managed to get off the wheelchair and dance - it was the start of the comeback."

He was back on a bike for the start of the 2012 season but it would be his last after problems with his new team.

"I thought enough is enough and Eugene said 'come and work with me, I need someone to personally manage my bits' so I went that route with him - I've travelled with him since then'."

John still has time to provide track tuition to budding racers on how to go faster but safer while he became fascinated with techniques used in his rehabilitation and now treats sport injuries and back pain.

Eugene, who has won 13 World Superbike races, reaped the benefit of John's medical skills and knowledge when he broke his pelvis in a crash during last year's round in Thailand.

It was not part of the job description, but John was happy to step into the breach and while Eugene has fully recovered, his older brother lives with a unending reminder of his own crash.

"My mum saw the crash on TV and phoned me from Tomebridge to ask how Eugene was, while I was riding round on a scooter trying to find him." added John.

Eugene Laverty is competing on a Ducati for Team Go Eleven in this year's World Superbike Championship
Eugene Laverty is competing on a Ducati for Team Go Eleven in this year's World Superbike Championship

"I arrived at the medical centre as Eugene came in. He said 'get these idiots away, they don't know what they're doing' as he was still in a set of leathers.

"I had to step in and cut the leathers of him because no-one knew what they were doing - they let me but I shouldn't really be doing it.

"I also made them check his blood pressure, that's life or death if he's bleeding into his pelvis. Eugene also snapped his urethra and they did fix that, which was good.

"For me each morning means hobbling along for five minutes when I get up, the time needed to lubricate the joints. I've 13 screws and two plates in that ankle alone and I have arthritis.

"I'm always moving my ankle and it's crunching. Luckily I've no mental scars of the crash, but I live in constant pain."