I feared I'd never ride again: Cyclist Hannah tells of her biggest battle

Exclusive: Olympic hopeful tells of her torment as she lay in road after horrifying bike smash

OLYMPIC hopeful Hannah Mayho has told how she feared she would never ride again after a horrifying road accident in Belgium.

The 19-year-old, pictured right, said she thought her dreams of a top-level cycling career had been shattered as she lay in the road with devastating injuries.

She was one of five girls from the Great British Academy Squad who were hit by a car while road-training in Belgium.

The former pupil of North Halifax Grammar School, Illingworth, Halifax, who was at the front of the group, bore the brunt of the impact and broke her leg and wrist.

Hannah has had to learn to walk again after extensive surgery but the inspirational teen has vowed to return to her top form which saw her named a 2012 Olympic hopeful.

Belgian police told her she was thrown about 50 metres in the crash in May. She said: "I didn't pass out. At first I thought I'd got hit and the other girls hadn't.

"But when no one ran over to see if I was all right, I realised it was serious. It was quiet, I don't think anyone was screaming or anything. I looked around and saw my leg was broken and thought 'Right, I just need to keep calm. Being panicky isn't going to help."

She knew the break – her femur had snapped – was serious.

"When I saw my leg I thought 'I'm never going to ride again'.

"I'd planned it all out before the ambulance even arrived. I was going to go to university and study psychology.

"But a couple of days later, the girls and coaches came to see me and were telling me to stay strong, that I'd get back from this and I just thought 'Yes, I'm going to do this'."

Hannah faces months of physiotherapy but in the last two weeks has progressed a lot. She now uses one crutch rather than two and said a breakthrough was being able to climb her stairs.

Hannah, from Cullingworth, said she has found it hard to come to terms with what had happened.

"But I think I'm over it now. I've been angry, I've been sad. I need to move on now."

The biggest battle of Hannah's life

Hannah has embarked on the biggest battle of her life to recover from her devastating injuries.

Hannah feared she would never ride again in the aftermath of the crash but has since vowed to return the level which saw her named a 2012 Olympic hopeful.

The former North Halifax Grammar School pupil said: "It made me realise how much I want it.

"If you love doing something, why should you stop?

"I don't feel I've fulfilled my potential in cycling – nowhere near."

Hannah has been put on an extensive rehabilitation programme including hours of physiotherapy, ice and static cycling.

She admitted her patience has been tested to the limit in her fight to be fit again.

"At one point I was doing too much and had to be told to calm down, otherwise parts of my muscle could calcify. That was scary to hear.

"It's hard for a normal person who breaks their leg. But if you're trying to get to the Olympics, it's harder.

"I guess if you want something then it doesn't come easily. There are always setbacks. This is my setback and I hope it's going to be the last one."

She said it had been devastating to cross this year's cycling competitions off the calendar, including the Commonwealth Games in October.

"I'm still not back training yet so I don't think that's a realistic goal any more.

"I would like to think it is, but I'd be setting myself up to fail. Everyone wants to race, that's why you train. So I was gutted."

But Hannah's talent on the bike is not disputed and is the reason why Britain's top coaches have kept her on the Olympic Academy Programme.

This week she returned to Manchester, where the programme is based, for her to continue her recovery using specialist equipment.

She said: "The Olympics is a target which I think is realistic. It's important not to look too far ahead. I'm trying not to put pressure on myself. I'll get back when my body's ready to get back.

"Before the accident, when I said I wanted to be Olympic champion, it was already a long way off.

"Now it's an even bigger challenge. If I concentrate on that, I don't think it's going to help. But in the back of my mind, I think it's possible.

"I've just got to get on with it and hopefully it will come together."