HOLDER: I NEARLY QUIT
Chris Holder says he nearly called time on his speedway career after Darcy Ward’s injury ordeal, as he bids to bounce back in 2016.
21 / 01 / 2016, 11:26
Aussie icon Chris Holder admits he nearly called time on his speedway career after witnessing best friend Darcy Ward’s injury ordeal, as he prepares to fight back in 2016.
The Sydneysider was one of the first people to dash to Ward’s bedside in Zielona Gora after he suffered career-ending spinal injuries in a Polish Ekstraliga crash on August 23.
While many people throughout the sport and beyond have been touched by the Queenslander’s plight, few experienced the raw emotion as intensely as Holder, who supported Ward from day one.
I know it happens – it’s not the first time and it won’t be the last. But when you see your best mate laying there helpless and in a lot of pain and suffering ... it was hard.
There’s no doubt his Turbo Twin’s troubles weighed heavily on his mind throughout the end of last season, and the 2012 world champion admitted witnessing Ward’s pain in the Zielona Gora hospital nearly convinced him to quit the sport he loves.
“I was pretty close to calling it a day there and then,” Holder admitted. “We didn’t start racing speedway to wind up in this position.
“I know it happens – it’s not the first time and it won’t be the last. But when you see your best mate laying there helpless and in a lot of pain and suffering ... it was hard.”
Despite a couple of seasons plagued by injuries and the trauma of Ward’s injury battle, Holder is determined to fight his way back into the FIM Speedway Grand Prix title race in 2016. And Coach Darcy is ready to help him.
He said: “It’s funny. It was always me telling him what to do; now he’s telling me what to do. It’s all changing around. But I’m looking forward to it. I can’t wait for it to kick off again and he’ll be involved for sure.
“I’ve read stuff with him saying he wants to help me get back where I was before all my problems. That makes me feel good. That gives me some motivation to really kick on and obviously do it for myself, but also do it for my best mate and drag him along with me.”
Ward was evacuated to a UK hospital and is now continuing his recovery at the Making Strides rehab centre in Burleigh Heads on Australia's Gold Coast. Holder has been lifted by watching his progress as they keep in regular contact.
He said: “We speak once or twice every couple of weeks, so we keep in touch a fair bit. He seems a lot happier now. When he first went back, it was tough for him to get back into the groove and find a rehab place. But he really has a good spot now.
“When I’ve spoken to him since he has been there, he has been really happy with the bits and pieces they’ve done for him. I think he has a bit of a routine going now, so he’s going well.
“It’s pretty inspirational really. He has probably been served some of the worst cards he could be dealt. But he has taken it like he took to his racing; full noise, flat out and getting stuck in.
“There are a lot of young guys at this new rehab centre, who are there with motorcycle injuries and they’re the same sort of age. He has a bit of competition, you could say, to test himself against. It’s probably the best thing for him; to be in an environment with a lot of young guys who have been dealt the same situation. It’s awesome to see his progress and how he’s coping with it all. It’s really special to see.”