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Klaver journeys from ICU to final
August 26, 2004 18:53 IST
Two years ago, Karel Klaver was unconscious in intensive care having been whacked on the head by a hockey ball. On Friday he will step out on to the pitch to play for Olympic gold.
The 25-year-old Dutchman says he has put the near-fatal accident behind him but it has clearly left an emotional mark on him.
"I think about it sometimes," he said. "You know what can happen, how every day is important, what each day is worth.
"To be here and playing in the finals is one of the biggest days in my life. It's really beautiful," he added after the Dutch beat Germany to set up a final showdown with Australia.
Klaver was playing a practice match in April 2002 when his team mate Remco van Wijk shot at goal and rather than finding the net, found Klaver's temple.
Klaver collapsed, his eyes rolled to the back of his head and he was unconscious for three days, had a split in his skull, heavy concussion and a huge scar on his spinal cord.
"Even bad whiplash victims don't have the sort of scar I had. It was amazing. But even that turned out to be OK after a while," Klaver said, looking around the stands at the thousands of Dutch fans who minutes ago had been cheering him on pitch.
"It's been an emotional time but that book is closed now. Instead I'm here and it's just amazing."