ST Andrews teenage ice-skating sensation Cheltzie Lee has fought back from serious injury to be on the cusp of Winter Olympic selection.
The inspirational 15-year-old suffered multiple stress fractures to her spine following a car accident in the United States in December 2007.
With specialists recommending she give the sport away, Lee struggled both mentally and physically and questioned the wisdom to continue on through a long and difficult rehabilitation.
But earlier this month, at the Four Continents Figure Skating Championship in Vancouver, the venue for the 2010 Olympics, Lee’s performance brought tears to her supporters.
The teenager placed 15th out of a quality field of 24, exeeding all expectations.
It was the teen’s senior debut, and she now heads to the world championships in Los Angeles next month confident she is up to securing a top 24 place and a Winter Olympics berth for Australia.
Mother Renita Lee said it was a “long road” for everyone during Cheltzie’s recovery.
“It was very difficult . . . she felt she could not do it. She’d never had a setback like this before,” Mrs Lee explained.
“But she had a very good team looking after her, and she trained very, very hard to get back to the point where she was.
“It was not a perfect performance (in Vancouver) but considering where she had come from it was fantastic.”
Mrs Lee said Cheltzie would find the world championships as challenging as her rehabilitation.
“At 15 she will be the youngest, if not the youngest in Los Angeles. There is no age limit so she will be up against girls with a lot of experience,” she added.
“The top three or four girls earn up to $5 million a year . . . Cheltzie is just a little Australian girl without sponsorship, training to realise a dream she’s always had - to go to the Olympics.”
The world titles will be held from March 23 to 31.