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Chris Holder on injuries, saving his season and brother Jack’s title charge

Published On:: 22/06/2023

They say that moving house is the most stressful task you can undertake in adult life. You’d guess that having a newborn baby may be a close second, and you’d probably wager that breaking your neck is up there too.

They say that moving house is the most stressful task you can undertake in adult life. You’d guess that having a newborn baby may be a close second, and you’d probably wager that breaking your neck is up there too.


So, what happens when you do all three? In the same week. Well, Chris Holder can tell us…


“It was the perfect treble wasn’t it! We moved house, then my little girl was born and a few days later I broke my neck - how’s that for a week?” said a typically philosophical Holder.


“It was a weird one, the crash wasn’t that big but I ended up doing two vertebrae in my neck, one was not too bad but the other was what they call a C5 fracture, which basically means it’s broken right at the front and it knocked it clean in half.


“At first after the crash I didn’t think anything was broken, I thought nothing was wrong but I got an x-ray and they said what I’d done but even then I wasn’t sure, so I went back to England and saw a specialist who said the same. 


“He said if I wasn’t a speedway rider he’d have operated on it straight away but if I knocked it it wouldn’t be good so to be safe he said to just let it heal and it’d take around 12 weeks or so. It was a nothing crash to be honest but I did a good job of it.”


There’s no good time to do that sort of damage to yourself but it has enabled the 2012 speedway world champion to spend some time in his new home with his family, but he’s now nine weeks in to his recovery and eyeing a comeback.


He said: “i’m currently at nine weeks, I’ve got the neck brace off most of the time and I feel pretty good but i’m not quite there yet. I need to strengthen it now, because when you don’t move your neck for that long you lose all of the protection around it. I’ve got some exercises to do and I just need to give it a bit more time so it’s strong enough to get going again.


“I want to be back for the world cup at the end of July, that’s my goal. This season has been a disaster really with the injury but if I can get back for the world cup and race for Australia it would salvage the season a bit. I don’t feel like I need much racing before that, it would be good to squeeze in a couple of meetings if I can but as long as I can have a day on the bike, just to shake off the rust, I think I’d be fine.”


Holder’s selection hopes are boosted with the return of the traditional World Cup format, where each country can select five senior riders as opposed to two, as is in the Speedway of Nations.


Despite his lay-off, he still feels that he could make his mark for an Australian team who look to have a good chance of competing for medals when the tournament takes place in Poland next month.


“Wroclaw (World Cup venue) isn’t a hard track to ride, I’ve done a s**t load of laps there and I know what you need to do to go well there. I haven’t spoken to Lemo (Australia team manager Mark Lemon) as I’ve just been focusing on my recovery really, but he knows what I can do.


“When you look at our team, Doyley (Jason Doyle), Max (Fricke) and Jack (Holder) are nailed on so there’s two spots open and you have to look at who is performing well at a good level. Most of the Aussie guys are either in the second or first division in Poland, it’s only me and Jaymo (Jaimon Lidsey) racing in the top league and the world cup is a tough competition so you need to be right on it.


“It’s not my call and I understand that I’ve been off the bike for a little while, but I know I can do a good job if I’m picked. I’ll be there supporting the boys no matter what but it’s the only thing that I can really salvage from this year to be honest so 100% it’s my target.”


Whilst Holder has been recovering, little brother Jack has been lighting up the world stage with a string of awesome performances in the Grand Prix series, where he currently sits in overall 2nd after three consecutive podium finishes.


He was on hand to watch Chris win his title almost 11 years ago but is now chasing glory himself - has that surprised the older brother?


“I’m not surprised at all - I’ve lived with him pretty much my whole life and I’ve seen all the work he’s putting in. I think he had a bit of a turning point in the winter when we went back to Australia and we did the Aussie championship.


“He was competing against Doyle and he’s a really tough competitor, he was going really good and it came down to the last meeting. Jack had to get top two in that and he won the meeting, which takes a lot of mettle and a lot of strength. He didn’t win as many rounds but he was accumulating points the whole way through and that was what you had to do, and he was top dog. When push came to shove, he held his nerve and I think that boosted him”, said the Sydney-born racer.


“Jack’s flying under the radar a bit and that’s dangerous, because he’s banging in points every round but he’s not at his best yet either. When he gets his first win it’ll push him on even more, Warsaw (where Holder was denied a certain victory when the final was stopped with one lap to go) could’ve broken him but it’s done the opposite and since then he’s been even better.


“He’s playing the long game, he knows that points mean prizes and you’ve got to get in the final to get the extra points, so he’s just chipping away every round and for sure Bartek (Zmarzlik) will have his eye on him.


“They race in the same team in Poland and you can tell that Bartek is a bit wary of him, he’s good at the little mind games but Jack loves all that stuff too so it won’t get to him. I don’t know whether he sees Jack as a major threat yet but he knows he’s there.”


There’s been some shock title wins in recent years but if Holder Jr was to do it, it would probably surpass even the biggest surprise wins. Can he do it?


“He can do it, definitely, but it’s not easy. Bartek is insane, he’s so good, but when he’s put under pressure he starts to do things that he wouldn’t do normally and he can get a little bit desperate, he tries things he doesn’t need to. If Jack can keep the pressure on then you never know what can happen. Don’t show him too much respect, don’t leave the door open for him and put him under the pump a bit and you never know.”


Despite not being in his brother’s corner physically for a while, it doesn’t mean that Chris hasn’t been involved and he’s in constant contact with Jack both at the track, and away from it.


“I have the laptop out and we’re on the phone constantly during the race, I keep an eye on the gates and we talk about how the track is, what gate to choose for the semi-final and final and all that stuff. 


“I’m always around to give him some advice and help him out away from the track but yeah, during the meeting we’re in touch the whole time and I try to help him as much as I can. I want to go to a round soon but he’s on a roll and I don’t want to jinx it!”


Jack will look to continue his hot streak in Gorzow, Poland this weekend for round five of the FIM Speedway World Championship, and you can find where to tune in on Saturday here.

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Chris Holder