Amy Van Dyken

Amy Van Dyken-Rouen: There was a good chance I wasn’t going to make it

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Olympic champion swimmer Amy Van Dyken-Rouen was set to fly from a Scottsdale, Ariz., hospital to one in Englewood, Colo., on Wednesday, 12 days after she severed her spine in an all-terrain vehicle accident.

Van Dyken-Rouen, who won six golds over the 1996 and 2000 Olympics, was in good spirits in a video from her hospital bed shared on TODAY on Wednesday.

“I just wanted to thank you guys and everyone who watches the TODAY show for all of your support, all of your prayers and positive vibes,” she said. “It’s definitely helping.”

Van Dyken-Rouen talked further, tearing up and explaining the extreme risk before her surgery less than two weeks ago, according to USA Today.

“[The neurosurgeon] told [husband] Tom and I to say our goodbyes,” she said, according to the newspaper. “There was a good chance I wasn’t going to make it out of surgery. It was one of those things where I looked at my husband and basically said, ‘I love you, goodbye, please continue on with your life.’ I allow you to date, which was hard to say. To do that and then to be here now and to be with him is the most amazing thing.”

Van Dyken-Rouen has paralysis in her legs and broken ribs, in addition to the severed spine, according to the report.

“I’m excited to get to this new part of my life,” Van Dyken-Rouen said. “It’s almost like a rebirth. I get to learn how to do everything all over again. I’m anxious to do that. It’s time to start so I can get back to Arizona and start my new life, I guess.”

Van Dyken-Rouen has provided updates over the last week on Twitter and Instagram.

For those who have been asking.. Here is the incision on my back. Healing fast! #PrayersAreWorking

A photo posted by Amy Van Dyken (@amyvandyken) on

“I will see you later,” she said, smiling. “Wheels up!”

Patty Mills, NBA Finals star, has quite an Olympic backstory

Photos: Final Five meet the President, First Lady

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 29:  U.S. first lady Michelle Obama(L) rests her elbow on the head of Olympian Simone Biles (2nd L) as President Barack Obama (R) speaks during an East Room event at the White House September 29, 2016 in Washington, DC. President Obama and the first lady welcome the 2016 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams to the White House to honor their participation and success in the Rio Olympic Games this year.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
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The U.S. Olympic women’s gymnastics team spent extra time at the White House on Thursday after President Barack Obama delivered a speech to the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams.

Simone Biles, Laurie Hernandez, Madison Kocian and Aly Raisman did the splits with Obama, and even lifted vegetable dumbbells with First Lady Michelle Obama.

Gabby Douglas, who had her wisdom teeth removed earlier this week, did not attend the event.

MORE: Simone Biles discusses her future

Katherine Reutter ends early retirement

VANCOUVER, BC - FEBRUARY 26:  Katherine Reutter of the United States celebrates the silver medal in the Ladies 1000m Short Track Speed Skating Final on day 15 of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics at Pacific Coliseum on February 26, 2010 in Vancouver, Canada.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
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When Katherine Reutter retired in 2013 at the age of 24, she never thought she would return to the ice. Three hip surgeries and two major back injuries left the two-time Olympic short track speed skating medalist in constant pain.

But now Reutter is scheduled to compete this weekend at the U.S. Speedskating Short Track World Cup Qualifier at the Utah Olympic Oval.

“You wouldn’t expect somebody who has been as injured as I have to be back at their best,” Reutter said in a telephone interview from Utah. “I feel like I’m getting close.”

Reutter only started contemplating a comeback last November, after being inspired by attending a World Cup race as a member of the U.S. Speedskating Athlete Advisory Council.

She began a regimen of yoga twice a week and daily 30-minute walks when she returned to Milwaukee, where she was working as a coach for the Academy of Skating Excellence.

“I started off really, really slow,” she said. “I started to work out the amount that a normal person probably should.”

Pain free, Reutter began skating during the practices that she was coaching.

“I noticed the days I came home really happy were the days where I had skated,” she said.

Reutter only started to truly believe that she could return to skating competitively when she clocked times that she described as “pretty darn good” a training camp in Salt Lake City in May and June.

She has learned to listen to her body. After experiencing pain when she scheduled twice-daily workouts six days per week, she scaled back to four or five days per week.

“I don’t really have the option to overtrain like I used to,” she said.

Reutter’s goal this weekend is to earn a placement for the ISU World Cup, which begins Nov. 4-6 in Calgary. Eventually, she would like to compete at the 2018 Winter Olympics.

But Reutter would be happy just being, well, happy.

“I am trying to live life to its happiest every single day,” she said, “and speed skating allows me to do that.”

Reutter recently changed her Twitter bio to say “comeback queen.”

“So far I’m the only one who calls me that,” she said, laughing. “I suppose people could get on board eventually”

MORE: Five athletes to know before the 2018 Winter Olympics