Saffron Allen aims to inspire Great Britain at World Championship after paralysis fears

Great Britain Women's ice hockey assistant captain Saffron Allen
Saffron Allen spent 14 months away from the rink after two slipped discs left her facing the prospect of never walking again

Great Britain Women begin their quest for World Championship promotion in Korea on Sunday, with assistant captain Saffron Allen leading by example following an inspirational return from a career-threatening injury.

Allen slipped two discs in her back in an Olympic qualifying tournament in China in November 2012 and first indications were she may not walk again.

But the 22-year-old not only overcame that obstacle, but was back on the ice within 14 months.

"At the time of the injury I was told I would not play again and might not even walk again," Allen said.

"For a while I couldn't walk, I had no feeling in my legs. I was stuck in China for two weeks.

"We were the other side of the world and communication was pretty limited. I tried to stay as positive as I could but it is definitely not something I would wish on anyone, or go through again.

"After getting back to the UK there was a long process of rehab and I didn't play again for 14 months."

Women's Ice Hockey World Championships - GB fixtures
FixtureDateCoverage
v NetherlandsSun 2 Apr, 08:30 BSTBBC Radio 5 live sports extra
v South KoreaMon 3 Apr, 13:00 BSTBBC Radio 5 live sports extra
v North KoreaWed 5 Apr, 08:30 BSTBBC Radio 5 live sports extra
v SloveniaThu 6 Apr, 08:30 BSTBBC Radio 5 live sports extra
v AustraliaSat 8 Apr, 13:00 BSTCommentary on BBC Sport website and app
Men's fixtures available here

Allen pulled on a GB shirt again in March 2014 and has since been ever-present for GB at World Championship tournaments, played in last year's Olympic qualifiers and represented GB Universities at the 2017 Winter Universiade in Kazakhstan earlier this year.

"Physio Kirsty Hopgood taught me how to walk again and she had to take me right back to basics," said Allen.

"She helped a lot physically and mentally - and kept me going.

"I am back now to where I want to be, but I still want to get better. It took a little while and I had to adapt my game."

GB Women begin their Division Two Group A campaign on Sunday in Gangneung against Netherlands, before facing hosts South Korea, as well as North Korea, Slovenia and Australia.

GB Under-18s are also playing their World Championship Division Two Group A tournament, with Korea using both events as a test for next year's Winter Olympics.

They will come up against Estonia, Korea, Lithuania, Romania and Croatia.

Listen to GB Women's World Championship matches on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra.

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