The following release is from Suzuki…
Team Suzuki’s Joel Smets has finished his course of antibiotics and will return to the hospital in Leuven, Belgium in the next two weeks for further tests to see if his bacterial blood infection has completely cleared. And, if it has, the former five times World Champion will go ahead with surgery on his broken anterior cruciate ligament.
After visiting the Grand Prix of Belgium at Neeroeteren in June, Smets has been taking some quiet time with his family, but being back in the paddock at last weekend’s Czech GP at Loket was not the easiest place to be.
A healthier-looking Smets said: “I have had some time relaxing after a difficult period. I was mentally prepared to end the season and I still felt fine about coming back to the race in Belgium because I was weak and had little strength. Now though, being here this weekend, it is hard for me. I feel that I can ride a bike again, and while I would be not even close to the speed required, I have an itch to race. I am close to the point of being able to fully train again and getting the ‘OK’ from the doctor is the next goal.”
The three week break for the riders was also the beginning of a holiday period for Smets who ventured into France with his wife and son. “The most exciting part of the holiday period has been the fact that I could go to bed without thinking about appointments or places I had to be the next day. It has been so long since life was like that. We spent two weeks in France and visited an Adventure park, with rock climbing and other small activities, which was fun. I also watched some of the Tour de France. One of the stages involves a mountain climb that all amateur cyclists want to achieve and I was happy to be able to make it to the top a few days ago; I went very slowly but it was satisfying that I didn’t put my foot down at any stage.”
Preparing himself for the next hurdle of knee surgery is not as daunting as many may think for the veteran.
“These types of injury are quite common in motocross so I am aware of the recovery process and what I need to do. I want to get to the point so I can begin to regain my condition to be like my old self. It will take more months and maybe until the end of the year but even at the start of the season I knew this period would come.”
Although early into his rehabilitation after the knee reconstruction surgery, there is still a very good chance that Smets will be able to play a role for the Belgian team at the Motocross of Nations on October 3rd at Lierop:
“I’ve heard that Joel (Robert) will not be running the team but there has been an offer for me to come along and help. I am interested but it depends on the state of my mobility in early October and I want to be an active part, not stuck at the back of the box getting in the way.”