US & Canada

Injured swimmer Amy Van Dyken sits up in hospital

Amy Van Dyken in 1996 Image copyright AP
Image caption Van Dyken was a star of the 1996 Games

A six-time US Olympic gold medal-winning swimmer who severed her spinal cord in a quad-bike accident is now sitting up in hospital.

Amy Van Dyken, 41, told emergency responders she could not feel her legs after hitting a kerb in Arizona while driving home from dinner on Friday.

She posted photos of herself sitting up in bed and smiling on Wednesday.

Ms Van Dyken is said to be in good condition, but her long-term prognosis has not yet been divulged.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Amy Van Dyken (right) is married to former Denver Broncos punter Tom Rouen

"Doing great today," she wrote on Instagram on Tuesday.

Ms Van Dyken was driving home in Arizona from dinner with her husband, former Denver Broncos punter Tom Rouen, when she hit a kerb in the restaurant car park and went over a drop of at least five feet (1.5m).

Mr Rouen told the Denver Post he raced to help her on his own motorcycle and found his wife not breathing.

"I raised up the back of her neck with my hand, she started gasping for air."

Emergency responders said she was found lying on the ground next to the bike and was then airlifted to hospital.

A letter from the Van Dyken and Rouen families said she had severed her spinal cord at the T11 vertebrae, and that the broken vertebrae came within millimetres of rupturing her aorta.

"Amy awoke within hours of surgery acting like her typical spunky, boisterous, ebullient self and has spent the last 24 hours entertaining her family and her medical staff in the ICU," the letter said.

In the 1996 Atlanta Games, Ms Van Dyken became the first US female athlete to win four gold medals in a single Olympics.

She won two additional gold medals in the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games.

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