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This is probably even more obscure than a list of famous Belgians. However, reading on might just give you the edge on your next pub quiz. I have found it quite comforting as I recover to discover that breaking a knee cap is more common than you might think, and that it is possible to make a good recovery.

  1. Penny Coomes. No, I hadn’t heard of her either until the Winter Olympics. In June 2016, she was practicing her ice dancing routine with her partner and jumped a little bit too high and fell onto her knee. Her patella shattered in 8 places. By January 2017 she was skating again, but the wires were irritating her tendons so she had a second operation to remove them. Another 3 months off. By September, she was skating well enough to win a competition and qualify for the Olympics. Eleventh place in the Olympics might not win a medal but its a pretty impressive recovery.
  2. Alejandro Valverde. I remember his awful crash on the rainy first day of the 2017 Tour de France. He skidded towards the end of the time trial and went straight into the barriers. With such an awful crash at the age of 37 commentators thought that might bring his career to an end. Seeing him in contention for Strade Bianchi a few weeks ago where he eventually finished 4th made me check what his injury was. I vaguely remembered his knee being mentioned but it didn’t have any particular significance for me at the time. I now know that he broke his knee cap and was cycling again within 6 weeks. By the end of February, he had actually achieved 8 victories in just 14 days of competition in 2018.
  3. Another cyclist and a Belgian too. Johan Museeuw will always be associated with Paris-Roubaix. Some of the most iconic pictures in cycling show Museeuw riding in a break away with his 3 Mapei team-mates before himself winning the 1996 Paris-Roubaix. No doubt they prepared better than the other teams. I knew that he then suffered a horrific crash (1998) in the Arenberg sector and subsequently nearly had his leg amputated because of the gangrene infection before coming back to win in 2000 and 2002. I now know that he actually shattered his knee cap in that horrific crash.

So a full recovery is possible and, with that in mind, I have exercises to do.

After yesterday’s Tour de France stage, I have to update this with another Belgian:

4. Phillipe Gilbert crashed over the edge of a mountain descent, close to where Fabio Casartelli lost his life. Fortunately, Gilbert was soon seen giving the thumbs up to cameras and completed the stage. It now turns out that he did this with a broken knee cap.