Connor Coles has pledged to ride again despite suffering a horrific leg injury, which nearly resulted in the loss of his right foot.
Mildenhall Fen Tigers star Coles saw his season come crashing down before his eyes on Sunday during the second leg of his side’s National Trophy final win over the Stoke Potters after crashing into the back straight fence on his third ride.
Although now faced with a lengthy spell on the sidelines, the 20-year-old — who joins teammates Connor Mountain, Brendan Johnson and Josh Bates on the injury list — insists he is not yet done with the sport.
“I will definitely be back on a speedway bike,” said Coles, grandson of Fen Tigers legend Bob. “Once I am up walking again I will then look to attend some practice days at somewhere like Scunthorpe.
“I never thought about quitting as, unless the injury puts you in a wheelchair for life it will always heel.”
Having scored four points from his opening two rides — including a race win in heat three — Coles, who hails from Exeter, looked on course to be in with a shout of another race win before sustaining the accident, which left him nursing six breaks, a compound fracture in his right leg and ankle and a chipped bone in his thumb.
“I made a great start and the bike was working well,” said Coles. “I got perfect drive out of the first bend, but then the front wheel started coming up and I hit the fence.
“I looked down at my leg and I saw it was flapping about so I started try to crawl to get away from the pain.
“Robert (Henry) said to my girlfriend’s parents that the paramedics saved me from losing my foot as there was no pulse in it.
“The bone, which pierced both my skin and my boot, had trapped a vein and the pressure needed to be released.”
Since undergoing an operation later that night at West Suffolk Hospital that left him with 38 staples, a number of stitches and two plates and screws in his leg and ankle, Coles has been flooded with get well wishes from both fans and riders alike on social media site Facebook.
“I have not thanked everyone individually who has sent me kind regards on Facebook, but I really am thankful of it all and it has helped me a lot,” said Coles.
While paying thanks to all those who have wished him well, there is one rider who is he is especially thankful for — Fen Tigers legend and Potters captain Jon Armstrong.
“Jon was a fantastic help. He really is a great person to have in the sport,” said Coles. “He made sure he didn’t let go of my leg until the paramedics had sorted it out.
“He really did everything he could to help me.”
The scenes of joy at the end were somewhat muted after the Tigers impressively built on their 15-point lead gained 24 hours earlier at Loomer Road by a further nine points to secure a 102-78 aggregate win.
“Connor’s crash put a bit of a downer on the whole day as the kid didn’t deserve that,” said team manager Rob Henry. “I’d like to think the boys did this for Connor, but it is great for them to win it as it gives us something to show for the season.”
Not only was the win the first piece of silverware gained since the club’s 2012 Grand Slam-winning year, but it was the first gained under the captaincy of Halsey.