VACULIK: THE WORST KIND OF BREAK
Martin Vaculik admits he always knew it would be a long road to recovery after 13 hours of operations and “the worst type of ankle break."
17 / 08 / 2018, 10:28
Slovak star Martin Vaculik admits he always knew it would be a long road to recovery after 13 hours of operations and “the worst type of ankle break you could ever have.”
The Zarnovica-born ace bounced back from a nightmare start to 2018 by finishing fourth in the Betard Scandinavian SGP last Saturday.
That marked a massive turnaround for Vaculik who was sidelined after an awkward fall on his SGB Premiership debut at Swindon on April 12 left him with a broken tibia and talus, with the bones piercing the skin.
With this injury, it’s normally six months and no racing. I was back on the bike six weeks after. It was a big risk. Now it’s four months after. We did an X-ray and the bones are stuck together for 100 percent.
Vaculik was transferred to a hospital in nearby Bristol, where he underwent two operations – the first to stabilise the break and the second to insert metalwork and carry out a skin graft.
The Gorzow rider has lifted the lid on how bad his injuries were. He revealed: “It was very serious – it was the worst type of ankle break you could ever have – the worst. Two of my bones went out through the skin and completely damaged it.
“I broke the tibia and the talus bones and the first operation was three to three and a half hours on April 13. That was to fix the bone and prepare for a second surgery.
“The second one on April 18 was to fit two plates and some screws. I also had a skin graft taken. After another nine and a half hours of sleep, I was KO’d for a couple of weeks. It was very hard for my organs. My body was like that of an elite athlete before the crash. I ran the whole time, cycled and did all the training. My condition helped me get back really fast.
“The doctors in Bristol did a great job with the ankle. My physio in Slovakia did a very good rehabilitation programme for me.
“With this injury, it’s normally six months and no racing. I was back on the bike six weeks after. It was a big risk. Now it’s four months after. We did an X-ray and the bones are stuck together for 100 percent.”
Incredibly, Vaculik went to sleep with a tattoo on his femur, and awoke with part of it on his ankle.
“When they put the first skin graft from the right femur under the microscope, they saw that they couldn’t use it,” he said. “So they had to take another one from the left femur – where I had my tattoo!”
Losing part of his tattoo was the least of his worries as Vaculik worked hard to make a rapid return to racing, although he admits his first SGP in Horsens on June 30 was tough, despite winning his first race. He said: “When I sat on the bike before the Grand Prix in Horsens, it was 50/50. My ankle was held only with screws. I had no contact with the bones – only screws.”
Vaculik admits this forced him to take it easy when he returned to SGP action on the tight and technical tracks of Horsens, Hallstavik and Cardiff.
He said: “I always said that after three GPs – Horsens, Hallstavik and Cardiff – I would start racing well in Malilla. It took some time to come back. Other riders have had more meetings; you also lose confidence and the setup with the bikes. Everything must come back.
“After the injury when I flew home from the hospital in Bristol, I sat and made a plan and set my priorities. My priority was the Polish league because the club in Gorzow really needed me.
“When you’re in the GP, everyone goes harder and pushes more and more and more. The tracks were not my favourite, especially after a serious injury. So I took it easy a little bit.
“Sometimes you have to take one step back and then you can make two steps forward. Right now, after four months, I feel I can seriously fight for good results in the Grand Prix.
“Now my head is clear. My ankle still needs work. I only have limited movement. It is improving, but I need to work very hard. In maybe one year it will be 80 or 90 percent what it was before – not 100 percent, but I don’t need that. With it back at 80 percent, I can run okay, so it’s alright.”
Vaculik was pleased to be back in an SGP final and insists being honest with himself over his likely recovery time paid off.
He said: “What’s good is that what I said to myself is true. I didn’t lie to myself when I said that after three GPs, I will come back and I can try to push harder. That’s nice for me.
“The result I had in Malilla wasn’t the best – I scored 10, so it was not the best points. But it’s my first semi and final of the year and I am very pleased with that. I appreciate that.”