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After Devastating Injury, Austrian Pole Vaulter Is Breathing On Her Own

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Kira Grunberg, seen here competing last summer, was severely injured in a training accident this week. Doctors say she is now a paraplegic.
Ian Walton, Getty Images
Kira Grunberg, seen here competing last summer, was severely injured in a training accident this week. Doctors say she is now a paraplegic.

Kira Grunberg, Austria's top women's pole vaulter who suffered a horrible injury during training Thursday, is breathing on her own and could soon leave intensive care. The 21-year-old underwent emergency surgery after fracturing at least one of her cervical vertebrae.

Doctors say the fall has left Grunberg a paraplegic — a development that shocked the sporting world in Europe and brought offers of emotional and financial support for the young athlete who holds Austria's record for the women's pole vault.

Grunberg's parents were present at Thursday's training session, in which she fell and hit her head after attempting what her manager said was a normal practice jump. She was rushed to a hospital in Innsbruck, where surgeons worked to preserve her vital functions.

Doctors say that Grunberg could be transferred to the general ward, reports Austrian media outlet ORF.

The site adds that the Austrian Association of Athletics Federations has announced that it is providing a 10,000 euro emergency fund for Grunberg, and that the Tyrolean Athletics Federation has set up a donation account in he name.

On the athlete's Facebook page, her family and management are thanking her friends and supporters for their solidarity, saying that the accident not only ended her athletic career, but also began a new life for Grunberg.

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