2020 was a strange year for everyone, none more so than for Vic Barnett, who underwent major knee surgery in the midst of a global pandemic, writes Ross Barnett.
Having done the double at the end of 2019, becoming the European and World Masters Cyclo-X champion, Barnett was looking towards 2020 with high hopes of yet more success.
However, lingering in the back of his mind was the knowledge that a knee operation was due in March, so for now cycling would have to be put to one side.
It had become most notably painful at the world champs back in December, as the course required a fair bit of running. This weight bearing exercise highlighted what Vic had already feared, that his knee definitely wasn’t right, and something had to be done.
March came around, and with that a slightly bigger issue, coronavirus. This knocked the operation back into July, giving Vic next to no chance of racing in 2020. As Barnett explains here, there was one notable positive to take from this situation:
“I was lucky in that all events were cancelled this year, so I didn’t miss out on any racing.”
“This means I now get the chance to recover for a longer period of time in the hope cycling will be back in full swing by the middle of 2021.”
Post-op life for Vic initially was very different. I recall picking him up from the hospital and seeing him wheeled towards the car, I knew it was going to be a big change for him.
But as the weeks and months have gone by, Barnett’s fitness has seen gradual improvements:
“I’m improving as every day goes by, running is still a big issue but I manage a 5k every now and then.”
“The biggest help for me has been the physiotherapy I’ve received since my operation. I’ve had great support from the hospital, who have set me up with an incredibly detailed plan to get my knee back in shape.”
“All it is is one hour a day, which I do religiously, working on stretching with the use of resistance bands. I get this out the way in the morning, giving me time to get out on the bike for around an hour.”
“As the day goes on my knee seems to get bigger and bigger, so exercising in the morning is key to its repair.”
Barnett is also lucky enough to have a miniature version of a gym located in his garage. This equipment means even though gyms are closed at the moment, cheers Boris, he can continue to train other areas of his body to keep in shape.
Looking forward, Barnett has already set his goals for this year:
“I’m heading in the right direction now, my kneecap is starting to take shape again, so I want to make the worlds this year.”
“By August I’m hoping to be back to where I was before my operation, to give me enough time to focus properly on retaining at least one of my titles.”
Luckily for Vic, he won’t have to travel far in order to race this year, with the worlds being held in the tropical setting of Ipswich, so World title number 11 could be returning to little old Lubenham once again.
Away from competing, another positive to take from 2020 for Vic was receiving yet another reward. Barnett received the Sporting Champion 2021 award, presented by Everyone Active.
This award comes in three categories: Bronze, silver and gold. Vic was awarded the bronze level, giving him a year subscription to the leisure centre, thus supporting him financially in his attempt to retain his jersey.
Overall 2020 has demonstrated just how mentally and physically tough Barnett is, which is a credit to him. At the age of 75, many would’ve taken this latest injury as the conclusion of their career, but with Vic there’s absolutely no chance of that happening just yet.
By Ross Barnett.