Week 241 (26 May - 1 June 2018)
When Ian Hutchinson lines up on the starting grid for this weekend’s Isle of Man TT Race, he will have already registered a monumental triumph by simply competing. Over Hutchinson’s career to date, the 16-time TT race winner has undergone over 30 operations, some of which involved physically re-growing the bone in his leg.
Superbike riders are born to take risks. Their job involves hairpin bends and speeds upwards of 200mph, all the while jostling for position with other riders and navigating natural obstacles on open road tracks. In 2010, Hutchinson was at the peak of his career, having won five single TT races in a week, a record that still stands. However, in September that year, Hutchinson suffered a devastating injury, shattering his left leg.
"The three arteries feeding my foot with blood weren't working,” Hutchinson told the BBC. “They were going to amputate my foot. It was purple but I just kept saying, ‘You're not taking it off. I'll never ride a bike again.’"
Using a cage to hold the bones together, Hutchinson spent much of the next three years in rehabilitation as his bones were painstakingly fused back together. In 2012, Hutchinson broke his leg again while taking part in a motorcycle show at ExCel London. The bone had become infected and weakened, and would require another 18 months to heal.
“They told me they were going to have to remove a big piece of bone and start all over again. That was the lowest point, the closest I came to crying,” Hutchinson said.
He was back on a bike in September 2013 and, just two months later, won the Macau Grand Prix. In 2015 Hutchinson showed the world he was back to his best with three single victories at that year’s TT Race. The following year, he broke the lap record in practice and went on to win three more races, before securing another two victories on the Isle of Man in 2017.
However, later that week in the Senior TT, Hutchinson’s front wheel was punctured and he crashed out, his left leg splintered for the third time.
Further complex surgeries followed and Hutchinson is now on the bike again, looking to re-establish himself once more as the man to beat at the Isle of Man TT Races.
"As soon as I came round I knew I wanted to make it back for the TT in 2018, that's all I was bothered about," he said.
"I have won the same amount of TTs after my accident in 2010 as I had before. I haven't forgotten how to ride fast. I've been more successful on my comeback than I was before. It makes me know that I can do it again this time."
For his quiet, understated commitment to superbike racing in the face of great adversity, Ian Hutchinson is JTA Communicator of the Week.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons