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Highbury rower wins gold – just three months after amputation

PUBLISHED: 17:24 09 December 2019 | UPDATED: 17:33 09 December 2019

Helena Stone became  British Indoor Rowing Champion in the AR3-PD classification in the 4min timetrial race on Saturday, December 7. Picture: Lucas Cumiskey

Helena Stone became British Indoor Rowing Champion in the AR3-PD classification in the 4min timetrial race on Saturday, December 7. Picture: Lucas Cumiskey

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A woman from Highbury became a British indoor rowing champion on Saturday – three months after her right leg was amputated.

Helena Stone in hospital after coming out of surgery to have a leg amputated. Picture: Helena StoneHelena Stone in hospital after coming out of surgery to have a leg amputated. Picture: Helena Stone

Helena Stone competed in the AR3-PD classification - for rowers with a physical disabilty - in the four-minute time trial race at the Veldorme in Olympic Park.

Helena, 22, of Calibra Road, was the only person competing in her classification but still won a medal and set a championship record.

She told the Gazette: "I may have been racing myself, but to turn up and give it my best shot is what counts. You have to be in it to win it. This is something I never dreamed of achieving so soon after amputation. Although I did a little bit of rowing before my amputation, I have had to rebuild my strength and relearn my technique."

Helena underwent amputation in September to escape the agony of rare nerve condition, complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS).

Helena Stone resting in hospital four days after having a leg amputated. Picture: Helena StoneHelena Stone resting in hospital four days after having a leg amputated. Picture: Helena Stone

She developed CRPS after a kayaking accident six years ago.

In 2016, she said the slightest knock or even spilling a glass of water on her leg could trigger excruciating pain.

According to the NHS, the main symptom of CRPS is "pain which can sometimes be severe, continuous and debilitating", usually caused by an injury.

Helena's was in "chronic nerve pain" and always had a level of discomfort due to her CRPS prior to the amputation, but the symptoms have since gone.

She added: "I don't plan on stopping there. I want to learn to run and take part in a grassroots paratriathlon in 2020. So soon I will be fundraising so I can buy a running blade. After being limited by chronic pain for six years I cannot wait to take advantage of my new found freedom."

Helena now rows with an adult disability group which is part of London Youth Rowing, called Royal Dolphins.

She has campaigned for CRPS to be properly recognised by the NHS and says new guidelines show progress, but she says more must be done to diagnose the condition early and support sufferers.


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