COMMONWEALTH GAMES: PURSUIT cyclist Emma Davies Jones is chasing Commonwealth Games glory in Melbourne.
But the fact that she is even in the England team and in with a chance of a medal is a bonus for Emma who, only in October, was just happy to still be alive and able to walk after an horrific accident.
The 27-year-old former Grange School pupil lived at Lower Peover until moving to Alsager as part of the British squad preparing for the Athens Olympics.
She was cycling to the Manchester Velodrome when she was knocked off her bike by a hit-and-run driver and fractured her spine.
At Hope Hospital, Salford, doctors told her she had missed becoming a quadriplegic by millimetres.
Davies Jones, who was fifth in 3,000m pursuit at the Manchester Games, said: 'Everything had happened so fast. One minute I was lying on the ground and the next I was being told I had a broken back. It seemed surreal to start with.
'I thought I would be discharged with bruising and was keen to sit up and ride off to the track.
'It only hit me two days later, when I was just lying there, what I had done.'
By coincidence the A&E consultant was a keen cyclist, recognised his patient and was able to tell her she would race again. Even more fortuitously Davies Jones' orthopaedic surgeon was in theatre that day and able to take charge of the situation.
There was a sharp fragment of bone dangerously close to her spinal cord and a neurosurgeon would not promise she would be fit for the Commonwealths Games.
But with more than a stroke of luck she was released within a fortnight and back on a bike by Christmas.
'My accident has changed my perspective on a lot of things.
'My desire to win has always been there, but now I am more focused and determined than before.
'When you lie on your back and cannot move, going out in the rain training sounds like fun. I've always wanted to win, but there has been a shift inside me and now I know I can win.
'My focus was always on the Commonwealths and it has never swayed. I want a medal and I think I still can win one,' she says in the e-magazine SheCycles.com.
With such a major interruption to her preparation no-one is predicting results. Though her natural fitness has aided her recovery she has missed out on vital training time.
Her racing talent was born in her first race at the age of 12 and by 15 she was a junior international. She was so keen and ambitious she wanted her school to let her practice rather than do PE.
Davies Jones, a professional since 1997, rides for a Belgian team and was seventh in the pursuit at Athens and 12th in the points race. Her fourth place in the 2002 World Championships remains her best result.
She is soon in action in Melbourne with four days of track events starting tomorrow. nSince her experience Davies Jones has launched a charity, Emma's Spinal Hope, to raise money for the Salford hospital. Further details are available from her website www.emmadaviesjones.co.uk