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Lifestyle images of 2016 Speedway World Champion Greg Hancock

Greg Hancock – The Road to Recovery

Dec 142017

Four-time Speedway World Champion Greg Hancock had to do something this year that he’s never done before. He had to watch Speedway. Not just watch the other races in meetings he’s in, but stand in the paddock in his plain clothes watching his rivals fight for the world title he so preciously chases.

His season came to an abrupt end in July when he fell down the stairs of his home in Sweden, causing serious damage to his left shoulder. Nevertheless, he tried to fight through the pain and continue his season until three dislocations in 24 hours at the British Grand Prix forced him into the decision he dreaded.

Now, almost five months on he’s firmly on the road to recovery and he’s got his sights set on 2018, where he will once again aim to win the biggest prize in the sport. We caught up with him in California to see just how long the road to recovery has been…

"I could deal with the physical pain but the worst part was knowing I wouldn’t be able to race for a while."

First of all, Greg, what was the damage?

“Well, the medical term is a Bony Bankart Lesion with a Hillsacks Compression – basically the cartilage around my shoulder broke away and the bicep tendon tore all the way round to my shoulder, there was a lot of cartilage damage and it was pretty messed up in there. I knew it was bad but I tried to race on and when I dislocated it it just did more damage and it got worse and worse every time.

The operation was successful, it was to repair the damage and re-attach the cartilage and the bicep tendon, and they tightened everything up so hopefully it won’t happen again.”

How is the recovery going?

“It’s going really well, the initial healing time is 3-4 months and to start with I was able to do some rolling exercises, just light stuff to get it moving. Then I started doing some isometric exercises and now I’ve moved on to light weights, some resistance stuff, I still can’t do any heavy lifting but it’s progressing really well and I think I’ll be able to ride in around three weeks now – so I’m close.

You’re not used to being injured, how difficult was it for you to be on the sidelines?

“It was horrible, I could deal with the physical pain but the worst part was knowing I wouldn’t be able to race for a while. I had a tough start to the season but at the time I got injured we had really got back on track and built some momentum again, we were back in business and then this happened and I lost the opportunity to defend my title. I really felt good and I was ready to push all the way, so it was really hard.

“I watched a couple of the rounds and I was there for a couple too and I didn’t enjoy it, I was watching the guys do what I wanted to do. It was good for me though, I could take a step back and really analyse what the other guys were doing, and I learned a few things. I definitely took a way a few little secrets and learned some more about the other riders so it was worth doing. My chief mechanic, Rafal, was at all of the rounds too and he was doing the same so even though I wasn’t racing, I was still learning and gathering as much information as possible.”

How are your preparations for 2018 going?

“They’re going great, I have the bit between my teeth and I’m as motivated as I’ve ever been. I always get people asking me if this is my final season or that is my final season, but I am as hungry as ever and I feel good. I’ll get back on the bike in the next month or so and then we’ll really step it up next year, I’ll be doing a lot of testing and getting as many laps in as I can. I’ve had a few months off and I’m chomping at the bit to get back now. It’s in my blood, I can’t get away from it so I can’t wait for 2018 and to try and get the world championship back.”