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Page last updated at 02:20 GMT, Thursday, 11 February 2010

Lindsey Vonn expected to make Winter Olympics

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I have to stay positive - Vonn

American multiple ski medal hope Lindsey Vonn is expected to compete at the Winter Olympics despite a painful injury to her right leg.

Vonn has a muscular contusion to her lower right leg, with bleeding in the muscles, and she is being treated with anti-inflammatories and pain-killers.

The 25-year-old said she had "honestly no idea" whether the injury would heal in time for her first race on Sunday.

But US doctors said later Vonn was "heading in the right direction".

Bill Sterett, the American women's alpine skiing team doctor added that he expected the ski all-rounder to be "100% ready for Sunday's super combined".

Vonn, who has nine World Cup wins this season and is expected to sweep the board at the Winter Olympics, suffered the injury while training in Austria last week.

"I was feeling good and healthy with no problems - now I'm sitting here questioning whether I'll be able to ski."

Lindsey Vonn

She had told a news conference earlier on Wednesday she "twisted funny" in slalom training, falling over the front of her skis, but had waited for a week before announcing it in the hope that the bruising would clear up.

"That was wishful thinking," she said.

"I wasn't able to walk for two days. It has changed my plans completely in preparation and now I'm doing therapy trying to get better."

The golden girl of American skiing has not been able to ski since the injury, but is supposed to be training on Thursday for Sunday's first women's race, the super combined.

Vonn added: "I tried putting a boot on but it was excruciatingly painful. I hope it will be OK.

"It's definitely my biggest challenge. (With previous injuries) I've always felt like I could push through, but this is the most painful injury I've ever had.

"It's going to be very difficult and it's hard to stay positive. It's changed my whole perspective and it's not the place I want to be.

"I was feeling good and healthy with no problems - now I'm sitting here questioning whether I'll be able to ski."

However, downhill gold medallist at the 1992 Winter Olympics, Kerrin Lee-Gartner, has no doubt Vonn will compete.

606: DEBATE

Lee-Gartner, a commentator for BBC Sport at the forthcoming Games, said: "My first gut reaction is that if there is any way she can put her foot in a boot, there is no doubt she will try to win gold.

"She is the ultimate professional and I expect to see her at the starting gate. She was in a lot of pain in Sestriere (at the 2006 Winter Olympics) where she fell and had a horrible crash and couldn't walk.

"People were carrying her, and yet she was still at the starting gate. This is a racer - she is the ultimate professional and she doesn't need any excuses, I can't believe she is setting this up as an excuse. This is a true injury but I do expect her to race."

Team doctors added weight to that view when they said Vonn was due to go for a training run on Thursday.

Training runs for the alpine skiers begin on Thursday, but Vonn said she had "flexibility" in her schedule and may skip at least one run to ease the pressure on her shin.

She is the two-time reigning overall World Cup champion, but has never won a Winter Olympic medal.

Asked how she will handle her billing as the Michael Phelps of the Winter Olympics if she proves able to ski, Vonn, who competes in five events, insisted one medal alone would satisfy her.

"I'm focusing on trying to win just one medal of any colour," she said, with reference to the legendary swimmer's eight gold-medal haul at the Beijing Games in 2008.

"I'm not trying to get five gold medals and be like Phelps. I'm just Lindsey."



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