Burleson Olympian Stacy Sykora Injured in Bus Crash

By Randy McIlwain
|  Wednesday, Apr 13, 2011  |  Updated 11:38 PM CDT
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Local Olympian Injured in Brazil Crash

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Volleyball player Stacy Sykora poses for a portrait during the USOC Media Summit on May 15, 2004.

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A U.S. Olympic volleyball player from Burleson was among those injured when a bus carrying a Brazilian women's volleyball team crashed on its way to a match.

Team members told Sao Paulo media that Stacy Sykora passed out, had a cut on her face and spent the night at a hospital. Her mother, Sherian Richards, said her daughter has a severe head injury.

"She's on a ventilator now, and they basically put her in a drug-induced coma because they want to keep her from moving," said her mother, Sherian Richards.

Her mother plans to travel to Brazil on Thursday to be by her daughter's side.

The bus overturned near the gymnasium where the Volei Futuro team was to play a semifinal in the Brazilian league. The driver apparently lost control in the rain just outside Sao Paulo, and several players had minor injuries.

The semifinal was canceled. Most of the players on the bus were released after being treated for cuts and bruises.

Richards said her daughter was bleeding from her head and jaw but still had the presence of mind to save a photographer who was riding with the team.

"She gets this man out, and then she just falls over, and she passed out," Richards said. "Now they say that her brain is swelling."

Sykora is reportedly getting the best treatment available. Every six hours, she undergoes an MRI.

Richards said she was told her daughter had weakness on her right side. Sykora also has a history of head injuries.

"She's the queen of concussions," Richards said.

Sykora, 33, was a member of the U.S. silver-medal team at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. She attended Texas A&M and has competed in three Olympics.

She has been immortalized at Burleson High School, where her jersey number was retired and where she was the first woman to be inducted into the school's Hall of Fame.

Richards said her daughter wants to make a fourth Olympic team. If she makes the team, she will likely be the oldest player competing for Team USA.

There is no prognosis for Sykora's recovery, but Richards said she just wants to be there when her daughter's eyes open.

"She needs to have me hold her hand, and I'm going to kiss her on her face until she knows she's OK. That's my baby,” Richards said.

USA Volleyball CEO Doug Beal said he expects Sykora to make a full recovery.

"Stacy is an iconic member of our U.S. women's national volleyball team and is one of our most engaging players with the fans," he said. "She is a key member of the team as it competes to qualify for the 2012 Olympic Games."

"On behalf of the U.S. women's national team staff, I want to wish Stacy a full and speedy recovery -- our thoughts are certainly with her," U.S. coach Hugh McCutcheon said. "From our understanding, Stacy is receiving quality medical treatment and has the support of our USA Volleyball family, her Brazilian teammates, the Brazilian Volleyball Federation and her many fans in the U.S. and around the world."

Members of the community are helping Richards cover her travel costs to Brazil.

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