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10th Aug 2020

Rugby player who broke neck in January is back sprinting in training

Worcester Warriors rugby player Michael Fatialofa was left paralysed in January after breaking his neck in a match. Now, he's back sprinting in training

Alex Roberts

It has been an emotional year for Michael Fatialofa

The Worcester Warriors lock had just come on against Saracens on January 4th, when a fairly innocuous-looking collision left him with a broken neck.

He had suffered a fracture to the C4 vertebrae, the kind of injury that usually results in paralysis from the neck down.

Teammates and supporters feared the worst. Fatialofa was rushed from Allianz Park to St. Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, West London.

There, surgeons operated first and foremost to save his life, and then to limit the damage caused by his injury. He left intensive care on January 23rd, and was then moved to the Royal Buckinghamshire Hospital for rehabilitation.

The Telegraph reported that Fatialofa was told to ‘prepare for life in a wheelchair’, but his recovery is nothing short of remarkable.

Over the course of February and into the beginning of March, the Kiwi started to regain some feeling in his limbs. The first milestone occurred on 21st March, when he walked unaided for the first time.

But his latest step forward is quite literally a sprint.

In a short clip posted by Worcester Warriors, Fatialofa can be seen engaging in speed work alongside the strength and conditioning coach.

Considering he didn’t know whether he would walk again at the beginning of the year, Fatialofa’s turnaround is sensational.

He left the Royal Buckinghamshire Hospital in June, writing on Instagram:

“Feel blessed to be able to walk out of hospital today after arriving paralysed. Thanks to the dream team at St. Mary’s Hospital and Royal Bucks for having me and getting me moving!”

Fatialofa was part of the Hurricanes team crowned Super Rugby champions in 2016.

He signed for Worcester on a two-year deal in March 2018, and looked to set to join a team in France’s Top 14 before injury and COVID-19 curtailed the rugby season.