ELLIOTT Heads sprint specialist Bianka Dexter is determined to not let a fractured vertebrae get between her and the beach as the Queensland season dawns.
The pint-sized speed queen hopes to achieve state selection after being named in the Surf Lifesaving Queensland Cyclone training team.
It has been a remarkable turn-around for the 14-year-old who spent the first week of last month staring at a hospital room ceiling unable to walk, talk or feed herself.
“The thought of being paralysed was just overwhelming,” Dexter said.
“Not being able to play sport, to do surf lifesaving; I felt like my whole world had been turned upside down.”
Blindfolded, Dexter ran headfirst into a pole in a physical education exercise, suffering significant ligament damage to her neck and upper back and a fracture to her C6 vertebrae.
She spent a week in hospital with cerebral swelling on the right side of her brain unsure of how serious her injuries were and whether she would be able to pursue her passion for surf lifesaving.
“I don't think I'd be able to live without it,” she said.
“The people, the sport, the friends I've made, the competition; I just love it.”
After spending four weeks in a hard neck brace and completing a regimented rehabilitation process Dexter will attempt a comeback in the Wide Bay Capricorn Premiership series next month.
Dexter's coach Steve Hanson has no doubt the current Queensland 100m sprint title-holder and Fastest Woman on the Sand winner has the grit and determination to make a triumphant return to competition.
He watched his star pupil win the North Australian Championships sprint event with a badly fractured arm late last year.
The speedster had landed awkwardly in the flags event, breaking her arm in two places, but returned to the competition after a four-hour stint in hospital to claim gold.
“There are a lot of people who probably would not be able to come back from this but this girl has true grit,” he said.
“She's as tough as nails.”