A Wanaka motocross rider has claimed a gold medal in the sport just a year after almost losing her leg.
Jody Tuffs, 40, took first place in the Women’s Motocross at the 2018 Masters Games in Dunedin over the weekend, her second gold medal after winning the same event in 2016.
But it could have all been very different after a freak accident last year.
On January 15, 2017, a year on from winning her first gold medal and just 18 months into her motocross career, Jody was competing in a Southern Dirt Bike Riders Club race.
As she approached a part of the track where racers slow down over different terrain to have their numbers taken, she went to land a jump. She quickly realised something was very wrong.
“My suspension went up and my tib and fib went down. I wasn’t holding on with both my knees. I thought I heard the break and the crunch. I thought, ‘my leg doesn’t work ‘and it felt really odd.”
Jody had suffered massive trauma to her leg, including a broken tibia and fibula and more than a hundred breaks in her ankle. She kept riding for a few metres, but soon pulled over.
“It was all a bit weird and strange. When I went to move myself off the track, I felt the bottom part of my leg stay in my boot and my leg move.”
After waiting over an hour for an ambulance, a long stay in hospital followed and it was a whole month before the swelling had subsided enough to operate. She had a metal rod inserted into her leg and at one point, it seemed as though her leg was rejecting the implant.
She remained in bed for four months as she recovered, but while many would have been put off the sport for good, she was dreaming of getting back on her bike.
“The main thing is doing what you love and not being put off. Aim for the stars, you are never too old. Ten years ago I would have lost my leg for sure. Some people think I am mad, but it was a freak accident.”
Just 12 months after the accident, she was out on the track and competing in the Masters Games again, adding to her medal collection. Despite some nerves, she was delighted to be back.
“I was pretty nervous to begin with. I hadn’t been on my bike for a year. It obviously felt really good, overcoming your fears.
“I felt stoked given where I have come from. Last year I was in the hospital and now I am winning gold. It’s awesome.”
Jody’s next race is this weekend as she travels to Christchurch for the TT Series, and she plans to do several more races throughout the year.