Uphill Climb for Injured BMX Racer

Arielle Martin talks about her comeback after getting injured just one day before leaving for the 2012 Olympics

By Steven Luke and Sarah Grieco
|  Friday, May 17, 2013  |  Updated 9:30 PM PDT
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Steven Luke

Arielle Martin, 27, talks about how she's making a comeback after her devastating injury right before the 2012 Olympic Games.

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BMX Racer Makes Comeback

Olympic qualifier Arielle Martin talks about her road to recovery after injuring herself before leaving for the 2012 Summer Games.
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BMX racer Arielle Martin is making a quiet comeback after her near-fatal injury right before last summer's Olympic Games.

Martin, 27, was injured last year only one day before leaving for London to compete as part of the U.S. BMX team. She is still trying to overcome the heartbreaking crash.

"When I lay in bed at night, I'm just thinking about overcoming it, mentally and emotionally,” she said.

It was July 30, 2012 - her birthday - when the top qualifier put on her Olympic Uniform for the first time in one final practice.

“We were flying out the next day to London so my bags were already packed,” Martin said. “And I just remember getting on the track and thinking wow, I feel amazing."

But, 45 minutes into training - the unthinkable became reality when the lifelong dream of going to the Olympics disappeared in a flash.

"My chain came off, my rear wheel locked and I went up and over the bike so I was almost in a superman position, which just exposed my liver,” she said. “I was 15 feet up in the air flying about 30 mph."

The impact almost killed her, puncturing a lung and nearly splitting her liver in half. Instead of flying to London, she spent the following two weeks in a hospital room.

The closest she hot to the games was seeing her initials on replacement Brooke Crain's hand in the finals.

"And that small little act in that moment meant the world to me,” she said.

Four surgeries later, Martin is now back competing at an elite level - not an Olympian like Crain, rather an Olympic qualifier.

Saturday will mark the first major competition on American soil for Martin since the accident, when she competes in the U.S. National Championships.

She says she is not afraid of the big jumps and has even had some spills along the way.

BMX program director Jamie Staff calls it one of the greatest comebacks the sport has ever seen is.

"The fact she even tried to comeback is one thing,” he said. “That she's had a successful comeback is another."

For Martin - the lone hurdle is overcoming a broken heart. Before London, she missed qualifying for the Beijing Olympics by a single point due to a crash.

"I hope that my experiences can show others out there you can come back from devastating injuries and still be able to do what you love and chase your dreams,” she said.

While the 2016 Olympics are a little far off, Martin is taking her comeback one pedal at a time.

The BMX National Championships at the Chula Vista Olympic Training Center starts at 11 a.m. on Saturday May 18. The event and parking are free and open to the public.

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