By Tom Degun at Trafalgar Square in London

Rachel Morris_10-07-12July 10 - Britain's reigning Paralympic hand-cycling champion Rachel Morris looks set to miss out on her dream of defending her title in front of a home crowd at the London 2012 Paralympics in exactly 50 days' time after being hit from behind by a car while taking part in a time trial near her home in Guildford.

The 33-year-old was six minutes into the event when a car ran into the offside of her hand-cycle, leaving her with severe whiplash and serious shoulder injuries.

Morris (pictured above and below) had time to get as close to the curb as possible but the impact was still severe and destroyed the off-side wheel of her bike.

Following the accident, Morris was rushed to hospital and although she is ultimately likely to make a full recovery, she admitted she now fears she will not be able to compete at the Paralympics.

"This has totally screwed me up," she confessed.

"I feel like everything I've worked for has been taken away.

"I can't imagine not being there (at London 2012), but I know how long it has taken me to recover from this type of injury before and it was longer than I now have before the Games."

Morris also admits that she can recall everything about the accident vividly.

"The bike went up into the air," she said.

"I remember looking across and I was aware that I was at the same height as the passengers in a car passing in the outside lane."

Rachel Morris_10-07-121
Morris was named in the ParalympicsGB cycling team just last month but her odds of recovering are particularly slim due to the fact that she has reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD), a condition that causes extreme pain and related sensory abnormalities.

When Morris suffers an injury her body reacts in a damaging way meaning that an accident like this is particularly serious and makes her recovery compromised and uncertain.

It was the condition that resulted in her having to have her legs amputated from an injury and British Cycling admits it has been rocked by the news.

"Rachel has been a cornerstone of the GB Cycling team's Paralympic squad for a number of years," said a statement.

"She made her Paralympic debut at Beijing (in 2008), winning a gold medal in the time trial.

"More recently, she won gold at the time trial and road race double at the 2010 World Championships and bronze in the road race in 2011."

British cycling has also revealed that it is supporting her recovery and dealing with her injury claims from the accident.

"British Cycling's member services have started the process of supporting Rachel and Leigh Day, British Cycling's personal injury solicitors, will handle her case," continued the statement.

"She has already been to the GB Cycling Team's headquarters in Manchester to visit the GB team's doctor, Richard Freeman, for an assessment of the damage to her shoulder and to begin the process of having her bike replaced.

"British Cycling will also be following the case closely as it is concerned that these incidents are often not adequately investigated and prosecuted.

"British Cycling, along with Cycling Weekly and other cycling organisations have recently called on the Ministry of Justice to undertake a comprehensive review of how the criminal justice system deals with this type of incident to ensure that everyone, especially the victim, is treated fairly and that the right environment for people to drive responsibly is in place."

Simon Richardson_10-07-12
The incident follows that of another British Paralympic cycling champion Simon Richardson (pictured above), who was severely injured last August when he was hit by a car while out cycling near his home in Wales.

Richardson suffered multiple injuries, including several broken bones, and his preparations for London 2012 were ended by the accident.

The news today mars the 50 days to go to the Paralympics celebrations that the British Paralympic Association (BPA) is holding here as it announced the final ParalympicsGB team for London 2012 featuring 288 athletes this morning.

BPA chief executive Tim Hollingsworth, who was in attendance for the celebrations, said he was "shocked and saddened" upon hearing news of the injuries to Morris.

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

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