A devastated Courtney Duncan is adamant she will pick herself up off the canvas and have another crack at the world motocross championship next season after yet another catastrophic injury.
The 22-year-old from Otago looked a sure thing to win the championship this year after narrowly and cruelly missing out on titles the previous two years. But a freak accident has once again robbed her the chance of calling herself world champion.
"Disappointed – I was going so well," a distraught Duncan said from Belgium. "It had been such a strong start to the season and I had a healthy point's lead going into the final round.
"I sustained a foot injury back in July at a local French race that I had to do as part of the team's instructions and got injured there, which is a little bit frustrating.
"It didn't seem too bad but then I came back and it flared up straight away and it ended up being quite serious – got a rupture in the lisfranc ligament and a separation of the metatarsal so I had to opt out.
"It was tough – this one really hit home. It has been a miserable week to be honest. It is hard to accept when you are in the surgeon's room and he said you can't risk this injury and damaging your foot anymore. It is tough because I am so close and the world championship was mine for the taking."
Duncan's misfortune is the latest setback in a run of bad luck that would have destroyed those with weaker character. She had a similar championship lead in her debut but missed out on the 2016 title after she got injured in a crash where she ran into a photographer, who was standing in the wrong spot. Then last year she was victim of a contentious jury decision in the second race of the final round in France. The race was stopped while she was leading.
"The last few years I have had a lot of tough times but I have also had a lot of good races so that is keeping me going.
"It would have been nice to finish it off but I will have to come back next year.
"It doesn't knock my confidence in terms of whether I have the speed or the ability. Looking back at last year there were points in the season where in the end it cost me the title and you analyse that and look at where you went wrong and what you can do differently.
"I changed my approach and my game this season and benefitted from that. Now you are stuck here asking yourself why this has happened?"
Despite the heart-break Duncan is vowing to bounce back stronger than even in 2019. She faces a lengthy rehab from this latest injury and will make sure she is completely back to full health before getting back on the bike.
"You want to be out there so bad," she said.
"The minimum [time off the bike] is three months but it will go by feel. We have to be really careful with the rehab and not put too much weight on it.
"I will work with my physio when I get back to New Zealand and make a plan but it will be at least mid-December before I get back on a bike."