LINDGREN’S LONG COVID FIGHT

PAUL BURBIDGE

Swedish racer Fredrik Lindgren admits his wife and mechanics had to urge him to halt his 2021 season as the former world No.3 emerges from an astonishing two-year battle with long Covid.

The Orebro-born racer was struck by the virus in March 2020 – the earliest days of the pandemic – before suffering a further infection going into last winter.

Despite the disease taking its toll on him, Lindgren miraculously won a bronze medal in 2020, and was denied silver only after a run-off with Great Britain star Tai Woffinden when they finished level on 117 points.

He then took fifth spot last year, tying on 129 points with Maciej Janowski in fourth. Magic was ranked higher only by virtue of winning the Speedway GP opener in Prague.

That’s some record for a rider who admits he was far from 100 percent fitness. Lindgren revealed: “My health problems started in March 2020. I got very sick right at the start of the pandemic and I was pretty much in bed for three months.

“I was very sick with Covid, but at this point, if you weren’t dying, you weren’t allowed to go into hospital. I did season 2020 and I fought on. I ended up with a bronze medal, but it was tough. Coming into the winter of 2020/2021, I got very sick with Covid again. Then I went to a clinic and had scans of everything we could think of to find out what the problem was.

“They found out that I had lung damage and I got some medicine for that. This was the week before I travelled to Poland to start the new season.

“I had lung damage in my body and it was really tough on me. All of 2021 was a big struggle. I couldn’t think properly and I couldn’t even run 5km. I couldn’t do it. In the end, the mental side of it took its toll. I did the racing, went home and I was in bed for a couple of days just to try and be ready to race again.

“In the end, it was my wife and mechanics that stopped me. They made the intervention for me. I had been fighting through for so long and they couldn’t watch me keep pushing any longer. They said they had to stop me and I had to get completely healed up and go again.”

As a result of them encouraging him to pause his racing, Lindgren sat out the FIM Speedway of Nations Final in Manchester last October and ended his season early.

Having had some time to rest and recuperate this winter, Lindgren is now stepping up his recovery. But he’s still trying to get his head around how he produced such rock-solid Speedway GP performances, despite a health condition which may have left some people unable to work a much less physical job for months.

“I don’t know how I did it when I look at it,” he said. “I am just starting to realise now that I am feeling better again just how bad I actually was last year.

“It has been a revelation for me. I am happier and I have energy to play with my daughter and be a good husband and family man. I have the energy to train and it’s like life has come back to me again. I am just happy to feel alive again and be myself.”

Lindgren gets his World Championship campaign started in the FIM Speedway GP of Croatia – Donji Kraljevec on April 30.

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