Austria's top pole vaulter paralysed after training accident

Pole vaulter Kira Gruenberg in a photo from her Facebook page.
Pole vaulter Kira Gruenberg in a photo from her Facebook page.FACEBOOK

VIENNA (AFP) - Austria's top pole vaulter Kira Gruenberg has been left paralysed after sustaining a serious training injury, her manager said on Friday.

The 21-year-old had landed on her head and neck in the pole vault box during a routine training jump in the western city of Innsbruck on Thursday morning, Thomas Herzog said.

Gruenberg's parents had both been present at the time of the accident.

Surgeons at Innsbruck's University Clinic operated on the athlete for several hours before announcing their devastating diagnosis: Gruenberg's cervical vertebrae of the spine had been fractured.

"After we had diagnosed paraplegia before the operation, the patient received emergency surgery in order to stabilise her spine and avoid further damage," the clinic said in a statement.

Gruenberg remains in intensive care and doctors will conduct further tests in the coming weeks to assess her progress, it added.

"The path awaiting Kira will be a long and difficult one," Gruenberg's manager said.

The athlete, who was being trained by her father, had hoped to compete in the World Championships in Beijing in August.

Last year, Gruenberg set an Austrian women's record of 4.45m at the European Championships in Zurich.