After a five-hour wait in excruciating pain for a helicopter to arrive, Hawke's Bay downhill mountain biker Brook Macdonald feared he might never walk again.
But 18 months after suffering a broken back during the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Canada, Macdonald is gearing up to compete overseas once again.
The 29-year-old is due to make his way to Europe next month for the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Leogang, Austria, on June 12.
But in August 2019, Macdonald thought he might never compete again.
Hurtling down the Mont Saint Anne trail, the biker's back wheel caught an exposed root, sending him flying over his handlebars and down a 3m bank.
Fracturing his T12 and L1 vertebrae, Macdonald waited for five hours on the mountainside for medical assistance.
"I remember the pain was excruciating. I couldn't feel my legs," he said.
"The whole situation was pretty horrible. I was told to hold tight, that the helicopter was coming but nothing happened."
Macdonald said he had accepted he was going to be paralysed.
Despite emergency surgery on his spine and two weeks in Quebec hospital, his fiancee was told by doctors he might never walk again.
After working with his physiotherapist twice a day at the Burwood Spinal Unit, he began to make slow but steady gains.
And miraculously, just five weeks after the injury, Macdonald returned to New Zealand and walked out of the Burwood Spinal Unit in Christchurch unassisted.
Macdonald's ACC recovery coordinator Kat Matthew said throughout his recovery, the biker never complained.
The Red Bull rider said ACC provided everything to help recover, including a rental car in Christchurch to help get outdoors and improve his mental health, as well as funding flights to and from Napier for follow-up appointments.
"ACC looked after me and covered everything for every step of my rehab," he said. "They really went above and beyond, sorting out my partner with accommodation, supported me financially and covered my physio, surgery and doctor appointments - everything."
Macdonald said his supporters also played an important role in lifting his mental state after he returned from competitive action at the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Austria in October – his first since the accident.
"To have the adrenalin again from competing was a great feeling - just to see and compete against the same people that I was before my accident was pretty special," he said.
As Macdonald prepares for his return to Austria next month, he reminded anyone to "never give up" after suffering any level of setback.
"Even if you've been put in a pretty tough situation, you need to know that anything is possible," he said.
"The biggest thing for me was setting goals and working towards achieving them day by day. Anything is possible, that is for sure."
Macdonald added: "I'll never forget what I've been through. I never take a single day riding my bike for granted after what I have experienced."
Upon his return from Austria last year, Macdonald and three others ran a half marathon in their hotel rooms in quarantine, raising $25,000 for the Burwood Spinal Unit and the Westpac Rescue Helicopter.