Linton speedway rider Sam Norris wins first race after suffering severe brain injury in crash
A teenage speedway rider who has won his first competitive race since suffering a severe brain injury in a track crash two years ago hopes his success will inspire others.
Sam Norris, of Linton, was left in a coma and had to learn to walk and talk again after a bike struck his head while racing in the British Youth Championships in Glasgow in June 2019.
But on Saturday, the 17-year-old triumphed in a grass track meeting at Gosbeck, near Ipswich.
Waiting in the pit box for the first race, he turned to his dad Chris, 57, and promised ‘I won’t let you down’ before emerging victorious.
“I just couldn’t believe it,” he said. “But I just knew how much I worked towards getting back towards that stage - the overall determination in getting my fitness back and getting my mindset right.”
The day before, Sam admitted he was nervous and felt the familiar pang of the ‘old butterflies in your tummy’.
“When you’re there though and getting all psyched up, you go into a different mindset and just want to do well,” he said.
Sam’s recovery was described as miraculous by medics after he worked on his balance, coordination, fitness, speech and cognition through his rehab at Addenbrooke’s Hospital and the Children’s Trust.
Although his fitness is ‘pretty much there’, Sam still suffers from fatigue which he knows he will have to learn to manage.
He is studying motor mechanics at college and also works with his dad, who is an aircraft engineer. For now he plans to stick with grass track racing before taking on a few Speedway practices in the winter.
I hope this helps other people with brain injuries and inspires them to get to their end goal - Sam Norris
Sam, who last year was a keynote speaker at brain injury charity Headway Suffolk’s annual conference, wants his journey to act as a guiding light for others.
“I hope this helps other people with brain injuries and inspires them to get to their end goal,” he said.
His mum Claire, 52, said she was ‘overwhelmed and very proud’ of her son’s victory.
“It was just amazing - it’s hard to put into words,” she said. “I don’t think any words can match that feeling.”
She added that his recovery had inspired people worldwide and would like his latest milestone to give hope to others with similar injuries.