SIFISO Nhlapo, South Africa's internationally acclaimed BMX star, underwent emergency surgery on Monday night after a crash during training left him with two fractured vertebrae in his neck, putting his chances of racing again this season in doubt.
The 21-year-old rider landed badly at speed on a large jump at a track in Norway, where he is based.
He crashed to the ground head-first, breaking the jaw piece off his full-face helmet and was knocked unconscious.
He was rushed to hospital where it was found he had fractured the third and fourth cervical vertebrae and damaged ligaments in that area.
"They have not picked up any nerve damage and there are no signs of paralysis at this stage, but the injury did require surgery," explained Mark Squire, Nhlapo's manager.
"According to Anders Grondsund, a fellow top racer and friend with whom Nhlapo is staying in Norway, last night's operation was successful and Sifiso was talking to doctors afterwards."
The Beijing Olympian has been in fine form. - Sapa