Determined to walk again

After breaking her neck in a sporting accident, Elin Harkonen had a long road to recovery. But her spirit and determination not only ensured she made a resounding recovery, but also inspired her to embrace a new career path.

3 May 2017

After breaking my neck, I remember taking one look at my x-rays and asking the doctor when he thought I’d be able to do a handstand again. He looked at me sheepishly and said that I was lucky to still be alive and that he actually didn’t know if I’d ever be able to walk again, let alone do a handstand. But that wasn’t an option. I was determined to walk again.

I was a three-time Swedish Vaulting Champion and had proudly represented my country at European and World Championships around the world. Equestrian vaulting is a unique sport that can best be described as doing gymnastics and dance on a horse as it gallops around an arena in front of thousands of people. It’s a gruelling sport and requires supreme coordination and balance. I loved the challenge and I loved my horse, but after seven years without serious injury I suddenly found myself lying in a hospital bed with a broken neck.

It all happened so quickly. My horse got scared and bucked violently. I was thrown uncontrollably into the air and before I knew it, I was plummeting head-first to the arena floor.

My first reaction was to get back to my feet and shake it off. No pain, no gain as they say. I tried to get up, but couldn’t. I screamed—I was in so much pain. My C5 vertebra was broken and I had cracked my C4. The disc in between was completely damaged.

Looking back at it all now, I realise how strong my mindset was. I was never going to let my injury break me. I became completely committed to my treatment and rehab, and with the support of my family and friends I’m now back stronger than ever and doing what I love—training, inspiring and motivating others to be the best they can be.

I am not only studying a Diploma of Sports Development specialising in Surfing at TAFE Queensland, but I’m also building my own personal training and wellbeing business called, BREAK IT and you will MAKE IT.

I am forever thankful for everything my family and friends have done for me. Without them I wouldn’t be here today.


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