Sometimes, when competition is intense and it seems nothing else exists except the desire to win, sport suddenly provides a reality check. The story of Kira Grünberg is one such example.
On 10 July this year, Austrian pole vaulter Grünberg finished joint-fourth at the European Athletics U23 Championships in Tallinn. She entered the competition at the height of 4.15m, which she cleared first time, and achieved the same success at 4.25m, before missing out on her three attempts at 4.35m.
Grünberg, the national record-holder (4.45m), was 21 at the time, a month shy of her 22nd second birthday and with her whole career ahead of her.
Watch Grünberg break the Austrian national record in Zurich:
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Less than three weeks after almost making the podium in Estonia, Grünberg suffered a training accident in Innsbruck. She has been left quadriplegic, with no movement in her feet and arms from the fifth cervical down and it has left Austrian sport, and the world of track and field, in shock.
This Friday in Salzburg, with the picturesque setting of Fortress Hohensalzburg as the backdrop, the greatest pole vaulter of his generation will not be thinking about missing on gold at the world championships last week. Instead Renaud Lavillenie will instead be in Austria to compete at the Silberpfeil Cityjump, without an appearance fee, to raise money for Grünberg and her family.
As the official press release for the event said: 'When Lavillenie heard about the accident of Kira Grünberg he was quick to offer his support and put the Salzburg meet on his list.'
Grünberg, who broke the national record at last year's European Athletics Championships in Zurich, is at a rehabilitation centre in Bad Häring in the Tyrol and while the medical prognosis does not leave much room for improvement, her strong will remains.
As she said: 'Thank you for thousands of messages! Your support gives me the power to embrace each day and to fight. I promise I will not give up.'This spectacular street athletics event is taking place for the second time. Back in 2013, on the first occasion, Denmark’s Rasmus Jorgensen beat Latvia’s Mareks Arents on countback after both cleared 5.50m and they both return to face France's Olympic and triple European champion Lavillenie, who shared third in Beijing.