“They looked at me a bit dubious like ‘I don’t know about that’. But I’ve proved them wrong so far so now they’re starting to believe me.”
August 2016, Rio, James Ellington is part of the GB team which finished fifth in the 4×100 metre relay; just five months later, himself and teammate, Nigel Levine, are in a life threatening motorbike crash whilst on a training camp in Tenerife.
The crash in January broke both of Ellington’s legs and his pelvis; the British athlete was set to be in a wheelchair for sometime; a remarkable outcome considering the 31-year-old could have easily lost his life.
Ellington’s pelvis was ripped open by a centimetre, and his ankle fractured; he even fractured his eye socket in two places. During the night of the crash, Ellington lost six and half pints of blood.
Speaking to the Guardian after the crash, James reflects on how he nearly lost his life on the night of the crash:
“They called an ambulance but I was getting weaker. I thought: ‘Oh, I need to stay alive. Don’t fall asleep …’
“I’ve always appreciated life but I was so close to departing it gives you a totally different perspective. We must just enjoy living. Don’t get hung up on all the small, stupid things.”
The harrowing story has seen Ellington lead his comeback in an astonishing fashion. Against all the odds, the athlete amazingly made his first steps just a few weeks after the crash in February.
The 31-year-old continues to set the bar high, as he says how he aims to be competing at the Commonwealth Games in Australia, April 2018.
Ellington was part of the British team that won gold at the European Championships in 2014 and 2016 in the 4×100 metres, and his potential return to the sport he loves would give the GB athletics team a major boost ahead of the European Championships in August, 2018.
James is a remarkable athlete, but more of a remarkable man as he continues his rehabilitation and dream of returning to the track; walking is just a triumph in itself, but a potential returning to elite competition is one of the most extraordinary comebacks in sport.