Who needs a spleen anyway?
Two months removed from having the organ taken out after a devastating crash in Holland, Coquitlam BMX rider Tory Nyhaug is headed to his first Summer Olympics.
The 20-year-old got the news Wednesday, based on his standings in recent World Cup qualifications that have landed him in the No. 5 spot internationally.
"It's pretty exciting for me and the rest of my family," Nyhaug said Thursday.
"[Wednesday] was pretty cool. We just went for a normal training session at the track and we had a bunch of media out there doing interviews and filming me. It was surreal."
Surreal would be an apt way to describe the last two months of the young racer's life, given Nyhaug's crash at a World Cup final in Holland in May - the collateral damage included a ruptured spleen, fractured wrist and a slight concussion.
After two weeks in a Dutch hospital, Nyhaug returned back to B.C. and the decision was made to remove the organ.
"It was pretty tough mentally, especially that first month," he recalled. "During those first couple weeks we were dealing with the unknown. We didn't really know if my spleen was good enough to keep or if I was going to lose it. Not just for the rest of my career, but for the long term outlook, it was safest to have it out."
Nyhaug acknowledged that he rarely, if ever, notices the fact that the spleen has been removed - in fact, former NHL star Peter Forsberg and NFL quarterback Chris Sims both had their spleens removed and continued with their pro careers.
That said, Nyhaug, will need routine vaccinations every five years and pay careful attention to his immune system if he begins to fall ill.
His most recent injury is part and parcel for competitive BMXers and Nyhaug has a lengthy list of war wounds to show for it: two broken arms, four broken ribs and a broken collarbone.
"The long term is something you have to think about. BMX is a dangerous sport and we all know the risk going in," Nyhaug said. "But we've had really good medical care in Holland, and really good doctors over here. We're all confident that I'll make a full recovery and be ready to go."
BMX time trials get going on Aug. 8 in London, while heat races run Aug. 9 and 10.