Amy Van Dyken-Rouen

Amy Van Dyken-Rouen’s goal to walk out of hospital in August

1 Comment

Six-time Olympic champion swimmer Amy Van Dyken-Rouen has felt sporadic movement a little bit below her belly button since being paralyzed in a June 6 ATV accident, giving her hope that she may regain some feeling in her legs one day.

Van Dyken-Rouen’s goal is to walk out of her Colorado hospital in August, she told TODAY’s Matt Lauer at the facility last Thursday.

“I am now paralyzed,” she told TODAY. “I am now disabled. I am now paraplegic. Although I aim to not be one day, that’s what I am.”

Van Dyken-Rouen, 41, severed her spine in the ATV accident in Arizona. Her neurosurgeon told the retired swimmer and her husband, former Denver Broncos punter Tom Rouen, to say goodbye to each other before surgery in case she didn’t survive it.

“Right now, I suck at getting out of my chair, just like I sucked at swimming [growing up],” Van Dyken-Rouen said. “This is a new challenge. I’m taking it head on. I’m not afraid of it. I welcome it. This is more than just for a gold medal. This is for my life.”

She’s undergoing intense physical therapy, from about 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day, and posting updates on social media. She said she wouldn’t have use of her hands if her accident was a few vertebrae higher.

“It’s a setback, that’s all it is,” Van Dyken-Rouen said. “And then we’re going to rock and roll.”

Of the accident, Van Dyken-Rouen said she remembers eating trout earlier that day.

“I remember getting up from my seat,” she said, “And that’s where it ends.”

Van Dyken-Rouen said her husband has gone days without sleeping and eating.

“I went over it 1,000 times in my head,” Tom said of the accident. “She took off, and then I turned. One second, and she was over. It’s a tough thing to get out of your mind. She wasn’t moving. She wasn’t breathing.

“One of the things that I told her was if she wanted, if all this was too much and she wanted to go, she could go. I would understand.”

Van Dyken-Rouen took that as a challenge, a reminder of her swimming career. She won four gold medals at the 1996 Olympics and two more in 2000.

Her parents, who witnessed those Olympic races firsthand, were in the recovery room when she woke up from surgery and have been with her every day in rehab, according to TODAY.

“Dad, now I can race you in our wheelchairs,” Van Dyken-Rouen joked.

Very pregnant Alysia Montano runs at U.S. Championships

WATCH: Top basketball moments of the Rio Olympics

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 20:  (L-R) Gold medalists Diana Taurasi #12 and Sue Bird #6 of United States celebrate during the medal ceremony after the Women's Basketball competition on Day 15 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Carioca Arena 1 on August 20, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Tom Pennington/Getty Images
Leave a comment

As expected the U.S. took gold in both men’s and women’s basketball, with the men winning their third consecutive Olympic gold medal and the women running their streak to six straight. But there was a lot more to take in at the basketball venues, including Serbia’s men’s team winning their first Olympic basketball medal (as an independent nation), and Spain doing the same in the women’s bracket.

To watch the top basketball moments of the Rio Olympics, click here.

WATCH: Top track and field moments of the Rio Olympics

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 14:  Usain Bolt of Jamaica celebrates winning the Men's 100 meter final on Day 9 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on August 14, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
Cameron Spencer/Getty Images
Leave a comment

From Sam Kendrick’s patriotic moment to Usain Bolt’s “triple-triple,” check out the best moments from the 2016 Rio Olympics track and field competition.

You can watch all of these moments here.