News

Despite paralysis, swim star Van Dyken in good spirits

Despite paralysis, swim star Van Dyken in good spirits

AMY VAN DYKEN:U.S. swimmer Amy Van Dyken celebrates her gold medal in the women's 100m butterfly July 23 at the Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta. Van Dyken won the race with a time of 59.13. Photo: Reuters

By Keith Coffman

ENGLEWOOD Colo. (Reuters) – Olympic swimming champion Amy Van Dyken said she was excited to be starting her new life on Wednesday as she arrived partially paralyzed at a hospital near her hometown of Denver for specialist treatment after severing her spine in an all-terrain vehicle accident.

Van Dyken, 41, whose six gold medals make her one of the most decorated Olympic swimmers of all time, has put a particularly brave face on her recovery since the accident, chatting warmly with well-wishers on social media and posting photos of her smiling and waving.

The crash happened on June 6 in Arizona and she had six hours of surgery the next day at a hospital in Scottsdale. On Wednesday she was transferred to the Craig Hospital in Englewood, a suburb of Denver where she grew up and where much of her family lives.

“I’m doing alright. Rocking and rolling!” Van Dyken told reporters as she was wheeled from an ambulance into the facility, which specializes in spinal cord and brain injuries.

“I’m feeling great. We’ve got the pain under control. I’m excited to start my new life.”

Van Dyken says she has no feeling from the waist down and does not know whether it will return.

Van Dyken won six gold medals at the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta and the 2000 Games in Sydney, winning in relay races, the 50-meter freestyle and 100-meter butterfly. In recent years she had been a sports radio talk show hostess.

Before flying from Scottsdale to Denver, Van Dyken said her neurosurgeon had advised her and her husband, former Denver Broncos punter Tom Rouen, to say goodbye to each other because of the risks involved.

“It was one of those things where I looked at my husband and basically said, ‘I love you, goodbye, please continue on with your life,'” Van Dyken told reporters from a stretcher.

“I’m so thankful to be alive,” she said, her voice breaking with emotion at times.

Luis Manuel Tumialan, the neurosurgeon who operated on her, said Van Dyken would benefit from having so many family members and friends around her in her Colorado hometown.

“That’s her family nucleus. I can’t put that in a bottle,” Tumialan told reporters.

(Reporting by Keith Coffman; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Bill Trott)

Recent Headlines

in Music

Ozzy Osbourne to undergo surgery

Fresh
British musicians Ozzy Osbourne of Black Sabbath, arrives at the Classic Rock Roll of Honour awards 2013 at the Camden Roundhouse in north London, Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013.

Ozzy Osbourne has cancelled his upcoming Ozzfiesta event in Mexico to undergo surgery.

in Weird

Belligerent birds chase people at Florida park

Actress Tippi Hedren, star of the 1963 Alfred Hitchcock film "The Birds," poses with Julian Jarrold, center, director of the HBO film "The Girl," and cast member Toby Jones on Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2012 in Beverly Hills, Calif. Hedren's relationship with Hitchcock during the making of the film is the subject of the HBO film "The Girl."

In a scene straight out of Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds," some out-of-control birds are chasing people at a central Florida park.

in Trending, Viral Videos

TODAY’S MUST SEE: Billy Zane mistakenly thanks One Direction fans for support

Billy Zane arrives at the Global Green USA's 12th Annual Pre-Oscar Party at the Avalon Hollywood on Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2015, in Los Angeles.

Actor Billy Zane pokes fun at the fact he shares a similar name to former One Direction member Zayn Malik in a new video.

in Weird

Loose police horse briefly on patrol in downtown Cleveland

horse

The horse stayed on the street during his escape but didn't stop at red lights.

in Weird

Dallas woman accused in illegal butt injections surrenders

Needles

Dallas police say a woman accused of providing illegal buttocks injections has surrendered to authorities.