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One Year to the day - Kimberley
Posted On:  08/08/2003 08:08:10

Kimberly Birkenfeld had it all at 37 - an MBA from Harvard, a successful
consulting business, the No. 1 ranking among women windsurfers on the U.S.
Sailing Team, all leading into a week with her boyfriend Magnus Liljedahl
at his birthplace in Sweden.

After a flight together to Amsterdam, where they parted, he returned to his
adopted home in America to sail in the Nautica Star Worlds at Marina del
Rey. She went on to the pre-Olympic regatta at Athens.

"It was the epitome of my sailing career," she said. "I couldn't have been
happier that I had earned the right to represent the [U.S.] in the Olympic
test event. I had everything lined up. Then the next thing I knew I woke up
in Oregon."

Aug. 8, 2002, a year ago today from this publication date, was the day
Birkenfeld's life crashed. She didn't feel a thing. She remembers nothing.

About a half-hour before a race start, she was involved in a violent
collision with a rival team's inflatable chase boat. It was piloted by
Bruce Kendall, a New Zealand coach and former Olympic gold and bronze
medallist. There were no witnesses - none who came forward, anyway - other
than Julia Conrad, a German windsurfer who was riding along with Kendall.

Birkenfeld suffered severe traumatic brain injury, spinal-cord injury, and
the effects of nearly drowning. Doctors told her that only her athletic
fitness kept her alive.

Kendall told Greek authorities that he turned his boat and saw a sailor
coming right at him. Conrad supported that account. Birkenfeld, in a coma
for a month and unable to think clearly long after, was in no position to
dispute them. Until now.

There's more at: http://www.yachtracing.com/PressReleases/thelog-080803.htm