Kristina Vogel: Paralyzed cycling star turns to politics

Kristina Vogel gave an emotional press at a Berlin hospital last September where she revealed the extent of her injuries that have left her as a paraplegic.

(CNN)One year ago Kristina Vogel graced the famous Berlin Six Day cycling event with the powerful dominance of a two-time Olympic gold medalist.

This year she returned in a wheelchair.
Vogel sustained life threatening injuries in a horrific training accident in Cottbus last June, colliding with a stationary cyclist at over 60kph.
    She survived, but the impact of the crash severed her spinal cord, leaving her permanently paralyzed.
    It was a shattering conclusion to the 28-year-old's sporting career, at the peak of her powers and with the promise of many more gold medals in her specialist event of track sprinting.
    It would have been easy for Vogel to have hidden from public view while coming to terms with her dramatically changed circumstances.
    But Vogel has done just the opposite, using her social media feed to update fans on her rehabilitation and attending a series of high profile events.
    The German public voted her second behind tennis star Angelique Kerber in their televised annual sports awards and she made an emotional return to the Berlin velodrome for a World Cup event in December, receiving a rapturous reception.
    Vogel receives her award at the German athlete of the year ceremony from TV presenter  Katrin Mueller-Hohenstein.
    That popularity may well stand Vogel in good stead for a new career that beckons in politics.
    Vogel, who was a part-time police officer as well as a professional athlete before her accident, is standing for election in May in her home city of Erfurt as a candidate for German chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrat Party.
    Placed second on the CDU's local list, Vogel is almost certain to be elected for a five-year term to the 50-strong city council.
    "I want to give something back, because I love my home town," she told CNN Sport.
    And future ambitions, aiming to reach the top in politics as she has done in sport?
    "Maybe yes, maybe no. I don't know, give me five years in Erfurt and we will see if I like it," she said.
    Vogel's former German teammate Maximilian Levy, like herself a sprint cyclist with a glut of gold medals at the highest levels, is supportive of her new career choice.
    "It's something she wanted to do so fine by me," he told CNN.
    Vogel sheds a tear during her gold medal ceremony at the Rio Olympics in 2016.
    "Every one of her friends has tried to do something for her, she has a bucket list of things to do, but at this point it is important to recognize she is not a track queen, she is a friend," he added.
    Embraced by what she calls the "family of track cycling," Vogel exudes positivity as she whizzes around the infield of the Berlin track where the competitors and officials are gathered, cheerily greeting all and sundry.
    Vogel acted as the ceremonial starter for the annual Six Day event, flanked by fellow Germany cycling stars Roger Kluge and Theo Reinhardt, but very much the center of attention
    Returning on the final day to hand out prizes to young competitors hoping to emulate her achievements, Vogel said she was determined to make the best of her situation.
    "It's important to come back here to show that it will be fine, that when you believe in yourself although the situation could be better, you go on," she said.

    'Sometimes I cry for five minutes'

    However, Vogel admitted that adapting to life in a wheelchair and the realization that she would never walk again was often hard to take.
    "Of course, sometimes it's very difficult and I have bad moments when I cry for five minutes, but at the end of the day I'm still smiling, I'm still Kristina and I think it's an important story I can tell."
    Vogel told the media in September when she confirmed the extent of her life-changing injuries, that the immediate aftermath of the accident were the "hardest weeks of her life" and publicly thanked her long-time partner, Michael Seidenbecher, for his support.