Tess Nichol is an NZME. News Service reporter.

Triathlete Michael Poole smashed off bike

Michael Poole in hospital. Photo / Supplied
Michael Poole in hospital. Photo / Supplied

A top Kiwi triathlete already battling epilepsy has suffered a setback after being knocked off his bike by a distracted driver.

Michael Poole, 24, was supposed to be competing in Ecuador this weekend - nearly two years after the determined athlete suffered a grand mal seizure, in August 2014.

Poole had been training hard to build back his confidence, fitness and race times and the Ecuador meet was to be his first since completing a chemical engineering degree in Florida.

Those plans were scuppered when Poole was knocked off his bike on Monday in the US.

He suffered eight broken bones in his eye sockets and cheeks and will undergo reconstructive surgery next week.

Poole was biking to the pool.

"I was in a designated bike lane, crossing slowly on a green light and a driver just charged recklessly around the corner and I could not get out of the way," he told the Herald on Sunday from the US.

"Because of the speed of the car I smashed my face very hard into the ground."

An off-duty police officer who witnessed the crash said Poole was in no way at fault, but it was not yet clear whether the driver of the car would face charges.

It was a big blow for Poole, who has worked for years to compete in triathlons despite being diagnosed with epilepsy at 18.

"All time indicators have been very good and I couldn't wait to begin to fulfil the promise I had shown early but was unable to fully develop while studying," he said.

Now, Poole felt uncertain about what the future would hold.

"Just at this moment I cannot conceive of getting back on a bike. Time will tell but aspects of recovery will take a long time."

Poole's father, Alwyn, said his son was trying to be characteristically positive about the ordeal but couldn't help feeling disappointed - a feeling shared by his family.

"You support a child's choices to the best of your ability and your heart certainly goes out to them when an accident like this gets in the way of their ambitions.

"More than that, though, you hate to see a young person hurt in a very avoidable situation."

To help cover legal and medical costs, go to: gofundme.com/2geajxnb

- Herald on Sunday

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