FOR the second time in his 22 years, Damon Rees’ ability to walk again is in question.
The Whakatane superbike rider had a 100kmh crash in Australia two weeks ago and has a long recovery ahead of him.
Rees was in solid form during practise testing for the fifth round of the Australian Supersport Championship on Friday, August 25 when a small mistake on a chicane sent him sliding off the track.
“I went in a little bit hard on the right hander. I missed my mark and went in about a metre wider when I picked it up to go left I had to put a lot more effort into it and picked the front wheel up.”
Rees and his bike went sliding off the track and he believes he would have been okay, had he not caught up to his bike.
“I was sliding along and the bike was in front of me. I collected it when I got to the dirt and when the bike caught my ankle it crushed or twisted it.
“I drew a blank from there I just closed my eyes and hoped for the best.
“I knew as soon as I went from left to right that something had gone wrong, but it happens so fast.
“It is just bracing for it, I have had crashes similar to that. Had I not contacted the bike I would have kept racing the weekend.
“I hobbled over to the tyre wall and started evaluating myself. I could feel my ankle wasn’t good and on a funny angle.
“I thought ‘I have done a good job here’ and waited for the ambo to arrive.”
Rees did significant damage to his ankle, shattering the talus bone which sent bone fragments through his ankle. Rees said he was told by the doctor that he must keep the ankle elevated or blood clots would form and the bone would die.
“There is a 30 percent chance that bone will die. And if that dies I will have to get my ankle fused, so fingers crossed I am in the 70 percent.
“The protective gear did its job. I have never seen a helmet with so much damage. It was a write off. I smashed the visor off, wrecked a set of boots and ripped the pinky finger off my race gloves.”
Rees had surgery in Brisbane two days later and flew home after a lot of paperwork to fly so soon after an operation.
“It is not serious but it can become serious if I don’t do what I am supposed to do which is not weight it for six to 12 weeks.
“I will go and see the specialist in two weeks to see what direction I am going.”
His older brother Mitch will race in round six in his place in Sydney this weekend.
“Mitch sent me Snapchat when I was in hospital and asked I was taking any applications for my ride. I sent back ‘why not?’ He was going over anyway, to watch me, it made sense for it to happen, the bike is still in good condition.”
Rees said the incident was just part of racing, but six years ago he had an even more significant injury.
While motocross racing in 2011, Rees broke his back and was told he would not walk again.
“Once metalwork was out of my back I got clearance from the doctor to get licence and race again. But within a year of riding a dirt bike again
I couldn’t do it for too much longer.
“I think that coming back from that injury has helped with this injury. It is just patience really, you can’t rush injuries like this.
“There is still a question mark about whether I can walk again. I have to stay positive and I want to be racing again, but I have to take the right steps.”
He hopes to compete in the New Zealand championships which begin in January.
Rees would normally be fixing motorcycles at work, but said he hoped to return to work in two weeks where he would do office work
“The hands will stay clean for a while. In the meantime it is just TV, books and movies.”