Mountain: ‘I will return stronger for Fen Tigers’

DETERMINED: Connor Mountain is showing no mental scars from his serious back injury
DETERMINED: Connor Mountain is showing no mental scars from his serious back injury

Connor Mountain has no qualms over a return to speedway action with the Mildenhall Fen Tigers — despite sustaining a season-ending broken vertebra during the team’s recent visit to the Birmingham Brummies.

Instead, the 18-year-old has vowed to start the 2017 National League campaign in better shape than he was prior to the injury.

A six-month battle lies ahead, but a determined Mountain is ready to meet the challenge head on.

“If I was able to ride tomorrow, I would,” he said.

“As a speedway rider you know that these things can happen, but if you let it cause concern, then you should not be riding.

“It will take six months to make a full recovery and I will not rush it. I want to make sure it heals properly.

“But I am planning to work extra hard over the winter months to get in the best condition I have ever been in.”

The incident that has left Mountain sidelined for the remainder of the year remains fresh in his memory.

After making an impressive start to the third heat of the night at the Perry Barr Stadium, the Fen Tiger encountered some unexpected grip out wide and had no chance of recovering the situation before he crashed into the solid fence.

“I remember getting up on to my knees straight away. I could feel pain in my back, but did not think it was broken,” he reflected.

“The medics took all of the precautions and given how serious the injury is, I am glad they did that.”

Subsequent tests revealed the extent of the damage — a cracked L3 vertebra in three separate places that required surgery.

A 15-day stint in two different Birmingham hospitals ensued while a date was set for the three-hour operation.

It has seen Mountain’s stricken L3 vertebra fused with its L2 and L4 counterparts.

The timing of the injury could not have been much worse for the Suffolk team and their rider, who had put in starring displays in recent victories over the Isle of Wight Warriors and the Buxton Hitmen.

That form had not gone unnoticed higher up the chain, with Premier League rides having been secured at Ipswich Witches and the Somerset Rebels.

“It was all going so well and it looked like I had rides booked to guest until the end of the season,” said the youngster.

“We were also starting to put some good results on the board at the Fen Tigers.

“We started the season pretty slowly and because of that the results were really inconsistent.

“But Dan (Halsey) was, and still is, getting the big points out there and I was doing the same.

“There was some genuine momentum building between the team, so from that point of view being out is really frustrating.”

Often when competitors are sidelined through injury, the frustration of not being able to perform keeps them away until fitness is restored.

However, Mountain is determined to buck that trend, largely to thank those for the support he has received over the last few weeks.

“I can walk around slowly and while standing for a long time might be difficult, I am hoping to be there to watch us against Cradley on Sunday,” he said.

“The support that has been given to me on social media, texts and phone calls has been incredible and pretty overwhelming.

“The fans at Mildenhall are amazing and they have proven that again.”