"Focus on tomorrow, not yesterday": Meet a very special Laureus fundraiser

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July 28, 2014

He was cycling 60km/h on the Italian Alps in Trento when a small patch of water sent him flying into a wall of stone.

His head was one of the few parts of his body that went uninjured.

This may have saved his life, but it would also be a source of incredible trauma.

He remained conscious as the list of other severe injuries eventually shut his body down, until his heart finally stopped. It is an experience he recalls well enough to describe.

“I still remember trying to say ‘I can’t breathe… I’m dying,’ but there was so much blood coming out of my mouth I couldn’t. In my mind I remember praying and telling God ‘I’m dying.’ Shortly after I lost all feeling of the pain, I lost my hearing, then my sight and I fell unconscious.

“I woke up in ICU the next day. Due to the epidural in my spine and the tubes in my throat I couldn’t move, make a sound and I thought I was paralysed.”

Grant Lottering started competitive cycling aged just 12. In the years that followed, his life would become defined by his love for the sport. At the height of his career, Grant successfully made the transition to pro-cycling and raced against some of the world’s greatest cyclists.

He says: “As a boy, discovering cycling changed my life and the discipline required of the sport gave me purpose and belief in myself.”

Last year, that self-belief would prove essential when Grant faced his recovery; a recovery that would be a greater physical challenge than any race he had taken part in.

In 2013 he qualified to compete in the World Masters Road Championships in the 45-49 age group category in Trento, Italy. This would have been a perfect event for the experienced cyclist. Throughout his career Grant’s strengths have been his ability to ride well in the mountains and completing endurance events across great distances. The Trento Alps would offer a great route for Grant to succeed.

But Grant would not make it to the championships that year.

Following his accident during the training race, Grant faced a lengthy hospital stay.

"After 8 days in intensive care I was transferred to high care. The surgeons told me riding again was highly unlikely if not impossible. For a couple of days the disappointment was overwhelming and I kept asking why.”

His list of injuries wouldn’t look out of place on an extreme daredevil’s career total and doctors considered his condition too severe for him to ride again.

Grant suffered collapsed lungs, 12 rib fractures, fractures of the spine, right femur, clavicle, multiple fractures of his scapula, a fractured sternum, extensive internal bleeding to his abdomen and spleen and ruptured veins in his neck and arm. The list goes on.

“In hospital I had to make a conscious decision to focus on tomorrow, not yesterday. From that day I made a decision I will return in one year to finish this race and show people the human spirit can triumph over adversity and that "impossible" is only a limit set by other people.

Grant promised himself he would not be beaten by his accident.

Not only would he complete the ride he started that day in the Italian Alps, he would do so within a year at the very next staging of the race.

“I decided to do this for charity, in this case Laureus, and the story would be so much more inspiring if I were to return 1 year later.”

“I believe the kids Laureus helps gets the opportunity for sport to change their lives, which otherwise they would not have had.”

Grant has spent his life aiming for the number one spot. But as he prepares to finally complete the ride that once almost took his life, it is clear he and those young people around the world he is fundraising for with Laureus are already winners.

“We are all able to achieve greatness and overcome incredible odds, but it’s up to each of us to believe and take action.”

If Grant's achievements have inspired you, please sign up for a Laureus fundraiser of your own here.