Former Witches star back in town

LEFT paralysed after an horrific track crash in Sweden last year, former Ipswich Witches star Kim Jansson was back at Foxhall today to meet fans and well-wishers.

LEFT paralysed after an horrific track crash in Sweden last year, former Ipswich Witches star Kim Jansson was back at Foxhall today to meet fans and well-wishers.

Hugely popular with Ipswich Witches fans, Jansson admits there have been dark days, but the future as far as he's concerned is only going one way - and that's up. MIKE BACON spoke to him.

IF you are thinking of feeling sorry for Kim Jansson, you might as well not bother speaking to him.

Of course his situation is different than it was before a track crash in Sweden eight months ago broke his back and left him paralysed.

But while his back may be broken, the 27-year-old's spirit isn't.

His sense of humour and fun hasn't faded and although he knows it's a long road, with dark moments behind and ahead, it's one he's moving steadily along.

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As he greets me, his arms stretch high as we embrace. It's a moving moment and one that will remain with me for ever.

This is a man I only ever interviewed and shook hands with, before and after the thrills and spills of speedway racing. Today our love of the sport finds us in this new situation.

Yet the humour I always associate with Kim is still there.

“Mike, the one thing I know I really can't do now is run,” he says.

“But you know what? I hated running anyhow.”

It's a line during our meeting together that typifies Kim's attitude to a future without the mobility he enjoyed as a fast-racing, fast-moving speedway rider.

In Sweden, Poland and England Kim plied his trade in one of the world's most dangerous sports, with Ipswich Witches the club he made his name with.

Today, on the outside he maybe less mobile, but inside he is more at peace with himself.

“You conquer or die, that's my attitude,” he says.

“After the crash the response of fans of speedway, especially Ipswich, was just overwhelming. I never realised I meant so much to people.

“It makes you realise that what you were doing was enjoyed by so many.

“If you don't try to make things good for yourself, you won't. You have to fight things. I have the attitude that I can still do most things, but or course I'm restricted.

“When I was lying in my hospital bed I was surrounded by hundreds of cards and letters. Yes there were dark times, of course, but also you suddenly take a look at your life.

“All I was doing is rush, rush, rush. No time to be grateful for what I had.”

But does Kim's positivity hide a bigger fear? Dreams never met? Worries of the future?

“You know, I feel I have done so many things in my life, my life has been rich already,” Kim adds.

“Of course after the accident in hospital I thought it was the end of everything. I'd just be like a carrot in a bag.

“But that hasn't happened. The only thing I do feel is that I have missed out on doing more in speedway. I felt I could have achieved much more.”

But away from speedway, emotionally it must have been a rollercoaster. And tears, surely there have been many.

“There weren't any tears in the hospital,” Kim says.

“In fact the nurses used to tell me to have a good cry, but I couldn't.

“Yet when I got home and a bit more realism set in I cried a lot. I still do a bit.”

Kim is lucky to be surrounded by positivity. His close friends and family will not allow him to feel sorry for himself, not that he needs any help on that front.

It appears key to his state of mind and consequently the way he has coped with it all.

“Everyone has been so brilliant,” he adds.

“It is important I feel I'm going forward, moving into my new flat, getting a new chair, not standing still.”

Second story

IPSWICH Witches fans have been instrumental in Kim's rehabilitation.

Their cards, well wishers, offers of financial help and support have clearly had a big impact of him, as he explains.

“Ipswich fans have been just so brilliant,” he says.

“They have sent me so many well wishers. It makes me realise I must have done something right at Foxhall when I raced.

“All I ever wanted to do was give 110 per cent .

“I admit I'm a bit nervous about seeing everyone at Ipswich on Good Friday, but I'm sure it will go well.

“All I ever wanted to do on a speedway bike is entertain people. They pay their money and we, as riders, are there to entertain them.

“So many people turned out for my benefit meeting last season, how can I thank everyone? Hopefully I can express myself on Good Friday.”

But as well as fans, friends and well-wishers, Kim's family have also been instrumental for him. However, as he admits, it has been a lot harder for them.

“I think people very close to me have had it much harder,” he says.

“They think so much of me, but don't know how I'm feeling. I know how I feel, but they don't and that worries them, I can tell.

“I don't understand it all fully yet myself and it is taking it's time. Physically though I can cope.”

Third story

THE future for Kim Jansson appears to revolve around the world of education . . . and karting!

Already doing home studies in maths and history, Kim is fully aware of the need to train his brain in order to break through into university where he wishes to study more.

His aim is to work with telephones and networks/telecoms.

“Maths I do because I really need to progress, while history is more of interest,” he says.

“I enjoy it and I know its importance.”

Meanwhile a new go-kart awaits Kim at his Swedish home, 50kms north of Gothenburg.

“The kart has been adapted so I can break using my hands,” he smiles.

“There are three tracks near where we live and there are about 10 of us who kart, so I'll certainly be doing that.”

FACTFILE

Name: Kim Patrik Jansson

Date of birth: 30/10/81

Status: Partner Charlott

Birthplace: Stenungsund, Sweden

Height: 168cm

Weight: 62kg

Eyes: Grey/blue

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