Tory Nyhaug's remarkable recovery is now complete.
Two months after a serious crash and five weeks after he had surgery to remove his spleen, the 20-year BMX cyclist from Pitt Meadows has been named to Canada's 2012 Olympic team.
"I feel 100-per-cent healthy and we're just fine-tuning some stuff on the track and building some more power in the gym," Nyhaug said Wednesday.
"Things are progressing really well. I'm feeling better every day and we're all confident that I'll be ready to go in London."
Nyhaug is the world's No. 4 ranked rider and if all goes well he will have a medal shot on the London track.
But forget about gold, silver and bronze for the moment - just getting this far is a victory.
On May 13, Nyhaug crashed during an International Cycling Union BMX supercross World Cup in Papendal, the Netherlands, rupturing his spleen.
He spent 11 days in intensive care there before finally flying home on May 29.
He then faced a tough choice. Either let the organ heal naturally and miss the Olympics or have it removed and take a shot at recovering in time for the Games, which open on July 27.
"It was a pretty tough decision," explained Nyhaug, who had also ruptured his spleen a few years ago.
"This time I blew it up pretty bad. Me and my parents were talking about it as well as my coaches and support staff. There were three things [to consider] ... to be ready for the Olympics, the rest of my career, and also life afterwards.
"We didn't want to sacrifice the rest of my life for one race, even though it is the Olympics. It came down to where, it was pretty bad, I could either keep it or lose it and go to the Olympics."
The spleen acts as a blood filter and is a non-vital organ. Nyhaug decided to have it removed.
"With the spleen, it's one of those organs you can live without," he said. "I had three vaccinations before the surgery [on June 3] and now I just have to make sure that every five years my vaccinations are up to date. I have to be careful with not getting sick and if I do get sick getting medical help."
Nyhaug said that if he'd chosen to let his spleen heal, the risk of another rupture was significant. He said he wanted to live an active life long after the dust of the London Games settles.
"If I'd kept it, it would have healed in about six months but the chance of it re-rupturing even just going on a hike or swimming was high," he said.
"So, not just for my BMX career but for my life, the decision was made to take it out. I think it's the right decision."
The wait was difficult, especially during the first few weeks.
"The first month was really tough mentally," he said. "It was such a bad injury and the first couple of weeks, we weren't sure that I was going to be able to go to the Olympics.
"I think the hardest thing was just not knowing what was going to happen. You have to stay positive and hope for the best. It was a really hard thing to do because the negatives are just so overwhelming sometimes that you can get lost in it."
Post-surgery, Nyhaug had a month of rest in bed. Then he started with 20-to 30-minute rides on the stationary bike. Eventually BMX specific training was introduced.
"It's progressed really well up to the point where I'm back into absolutely everything the last two weeks," he said.
Along the way, Cycling Canada kept the Olympic door open. He got training and funding help through B2ten, an athlete support program, and Own the Podium.
Family, friends, his girlfriend, and his coaches were with him every step of the way.
"I had a lot help," Nyhaug said. "I wouldn't be as far along as I am today without them."
"We are really surprised the way he's recovering and how fast he's stepping up," said Pierre-Henri Sauze, Nyhaug's personal coach.
"I'm really positive about it. No one is worried about results right now. We just want him to do his best race [in London].
"We want him to go there as a challenger. We want him to go there without any pressure. For sure he'll give 100 per cent like he always does. I'm not worried about that."
National team coach Adam Muys said there were other riders ready to step in but once the surgery was successful he was confident Nyhaug would return.
"We took it day by day to see how he was doing on the bike," Muys said. "We had
three athletes in the pool so we did have alternates prepared if Tory was unable to regain his health.
"We were pretty confident that he would be able to recover."
Nyhaug had been enjoying a good season before the crash, making all three World Cup finals. Now the test will be to find peak form before the event's time trial on Aug. 8. The quarterfinal, semifinal and final are on Aug. 9-10.