For six months, Ray Silburn had one goal - the Canberra jockey just wanted to hug his two sons, Aron and Joel.
Nine years ago, Silburn suffered a horrific fall at Canberra's Thoroughbred Park that left him a quadriplegic with limited movement in his arms. If really he concentrates, he says, he can move his big toe.
But as Silburn, a Wests Tigers fan, watched Monday night NRL two weeks ago, and the lifting tackle on Newcastle’s Alex McKinnon, he felt something else.
"It does put shivers down your spine when you watch those kinds of accidents happen, but it's not until a couple of days later that you hear the damage," Silburn said.
"When you hear of another sportsman [possibly] becoming a quadriplegic - it's close to home. You've got to feel for their families and their girlfriends and I know the hard times that they'll be going through now."
If he had his time again, Silburn would still choose to be a jockey.
It's a similar story for Canberra's Paul Crake, who would return to professional cycling.
Both, now in wheelchairs due to split-second sporting accidents, know how quickly life can change.
Crake was a mountain runner and Australian pioneer of stair climbing, a five-time winner of the famous Empire State Building race in New York, before switching to professional cycling in 2003.
Competing on the bike in New Zealand in November 2006 he, and four other riders, were blown off the road by a freak cross-wind. Crake woke up 10 days later in hospital to doctors telling him he'd never walk again.
Now, 37, Crake admits there were dark times. But the support of those closest to him including his girlfriend, now wife Daniela Zanon, got him through.
"The biggest thing is to always give people hope," Crake said.
"In Alex's case he needs to have positive people around him and provided support."
Silburn was riding Caza Ladron in one of the minor races as part of the 2005 Black Opal Stakes carnival.
Just 250 metres from the finishing post, Caza Ladron stumbled, throwing Silburn over the front before crashing down on top of the fallen jockey.
He was left prone on the ground with a stretched spinal chord, which bled inside his C4 vertebrae.
Silburn was rushed to hospital, almost dying in the back of the ambulance, and spent eight days in an induced coma.
Waking, he remembers medical staff pricking his arms and feet with a pin and being unable to feel a thing.
He spent every day in rehabilitation, trying to moving his arm a millimetre at a time until it would fall off his armrest.
Nine months later he left hospital in a wheelchair.
"It took two months of rehab to be able to move my left arm and the doctors said I'd never be able to move my right arm, but I didn't believe it," Silburn said.
"My goal was always to hug my kids and it took me six months."
Silburn, 46, still loves racing and will be at Gundagai on Sunday, where they're running a race named in his honour.
It's a fitting tribute given he rode his 1000th winner there.
Part of what has kept him going has been helping his fellow jockeys.
He has helped set up the National Jockeys Fund to ensure future hoops are given support if accidents strike.
Crake’s disability also inspired him to help others. His business in Sydney, Total Ability, sells driving aids to convert cars for people with disabilities.
"I'd gone from being a person who always had a focus, always sought satisfaction from every day and all of a sudden that was gone," Crake said.
"For several years I was floundering. I didn't have the drive and determination I had as a sports person ... [but] it's come back, towards the business that I'm running.
"And that's critical because I've got a reason to get up in the morning."
Four-time Paralympian Garry Croker was playing schoolboy rugby union for NSW in 1982 when he laid a tackle that became a maul, which collapsed and changed his life.
He's not sure when it happened, but he dislocated his C5-C6 vertebrae and spent "five months and a day" in hospital.
Last year, his 16-year-old son Ben asked to play rugby.
Naturally hesitant, Croker did some research and decided while there was a risk, it was a small one with about 10 people each year suffering spinal injuries playing one of the football codes.
"I thought let's look at the facts, consider risk and not go on an emotional gut feeling," he said.
"There is a risk, no doubt about it, just from the nature of the game, [0.003] per cent, you've got to be the unlucky one.
"Unfortunately I was one of those ... I think there's a lot of benefits from playing football codes in general, however most people aren't aware there's 10 [spinal injuries] a year."