MATTHEW HEGINBOTHAM, one of the country’s top young skiers, will be back on the slopes later this month after battling back from a serious injury.
The 16-year-old from Greenfield has spent seven-and-a-half months recovering from the badly damaged knee that was sustained playing rugby for Saddleworth Rangers U15s.
Matthew, a member of the Great Britain U18 ski team, will be in Pila, Italy, training with the British Ski Academy from mid-January until the end of April.
And Matthew, ranked number one for Great Britain U16s last year, is hoping his knee stays strong enough to be able to race towards the end of the season.
Matthew, who has special dispensation to take leave from Saddleworth School providing he studies while in Italy, has written a detailed account of his journey back to fitness.
He said: “Things don’t always go to plan. Instead of looking forward to spending six weeks during the summer in Australia skiing and trying to qualify for the Winter Youth Olympics, I was looking at a knee operation.
“A tackle during a rugby match in May while playing for Rangers saw me bust my knee. An MRI scan confirmed I had snapped my ACL, MCL and hamstring tendons.
“My operation was booked for early June using an internal brace to fix my ACL.
“The surgery was a success, but I also had an acute tear to my lateral meniscus. I spent the next six to eight weeks on crutches, and was two months behind with my rehab.
“To say it took me more than a few weeks to stop feeling sorry for myself is an understatement. No sport for at least six months felt like my world had ended.
“Constant physic sessions followed, eventually being replaced with gym sessions with my personal trainer Andy Yates.
“Towards the beginning of December my physic asked me to hop from leg to leg along a corridor, this might seem like a small thing that you take for granted, but my first hops felt amazing.
“So seven-and-a-half months after my operation, I am finally heading out to Pila in Italy to put my skis back on, hopefully I can still remember how to ski.
“My training programme for the season is very open as I’m just taking every day as it comes. It would be great to be able to enter a few ski races towards the end of the season, so fingers crossed my knee stays strong.”
Follow Matthew’s Twitter account for updates: @skiing_mattheg