VICTORIA WILLIAMSON has finally watched the horror crash which almost caused paralysis from the neck down — and admits it brought her closure.
Ahead of this week’s UCI World Track Cycling Championships, the GB star relived footage of a brutal mid-race collision which irrevocably changed her life.
It is more than three years since Williamson came within millimetres of never walking again.
She smashed at high speed into the Rotterdam Velodrome barrier, breaking her neck and back, dislocating her pelvis and sustaining a cut to her right flank so deep it exposed her spine.
Yet it was only eight weeks ago that she plucked up the courage to observe exactly what happened when she crashed with Dutch rival Elis Ligtlee.
Williamson, 25, claims the video was stored on a laptop owned by British Cycling team doctor Richard Freeman but it had been temporarily unavailable as it was withheld during an anti-doping investigation.
The Norfolk rider told SunSport: “I wanted to work out why my injuries were so bad.
But as I sat there and watched, it didn’t really feel like me. It was an out-of-body experience.
“It didn’t really have a great impact because, though I couldn’t remember anything, I knew I’d be OK.
“The crash before then had been a complete mind blank.
“If I had watched it while lying in the hospital, with my broken bones, wearing a neck brace, it would have been a hard pill to swallow.
“But this time it gave me closure, to know what had happened in this event that changed my life.”
Williamson struggled to walk unaided for several months and underwent four surgeries, including a back op which lasted eight hours.
Doctors were adamant at first she would never ride again competitively.
She said: “The surgeons showed me my injuries on a screen. They said, ‘Look, it’s two millimetres from your spinal cord’. At the time I was lying there in hospital, thinking, ‘Why me?’
“But then I realised it could have been a hell of a lot worse. I am lucky to come away and still be a fully functioning human again.”
Incredibly, after two years of intense rehab she has returned to the saddle and will wear GB colours in Poland from tomorrow in the women’s team sprint.
Williamson added: “Being selected is a dream — but to win a medal would be the icing on the cake.”