Matthew Theunissen is a business reporter

Champion still dreaming about motorcycles from hospital bed

Shaun Harris has defied the odds after a serious crash in a Superbikes race in Timaru last month. Photo / Supplied
Shaun Harris has defied the odds after a serious crash in a Superbikes race in Timaru last month. Photo / Supplied

For the second time in nine years, doctors told Shaun Harris' family to prepare for the worst after he suffered severe head injuries when he crashed during a motorcycle race.

But the champion rider has again defied the odds and is up and about, even trying to cajole his weary wife into booking his spot at this year's Isle of Man TT.

Harris came off his bike during a qualification run for the New Zealand Superbike Championships at the Timaru International Motor Raceway on January 23, causing multiple brain bleeds.

He had only recently got back in the saddle after a crash at the Isle of Man TT in 2007, which left him in an induced coma for close to a month with a head injury and a stack of broken bones.

After the most recent incident his wife, Fiona Kelsen, was told that he might never wake up and that his life support may need to be turned off if his condition didn't dramatically improve.

Remarkably, less than a month after the crash Harris is wide awake and even back on his feet.

"He is, to be honest, going ahead in leaps and bounds. It's amazing," Kelsen said.

But he suffered a severe traumatic head injury, and still has a long way to go to recover.

He is unable to swallow and has to be fed through a tube. And he can't talk yet so communicates by writing on a pad.

He is, to be honest, going ahead in leaps and bounds. It's amazing.
Fiona Kelsen

"He's still thinking about motorbikes. One thing he wrote was for me to sort out TT airline tickets. So I said 'okay Shaun I'll sort that out for you, in your dreams'," Kelsen said.

"He's as nutty as a fruit cake, but then Shaun Harris was as nutty as a fruit cake anyway."

The next stage of his rehabilitation will be to travel to Wellington where he will receive specialist treatment.

"It's one step closer to home, just one step closer. And home is the best place for him to rehab," she said.

"He will live but how he comes back to us we don't know. Having said that, he's Shaun Harris and watching him, seeing what he does, he has amazing stamina."

Kelsen spent about three months in the UK and Isle of Man after Harris' 2007 accident.

- NZ Herald

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