Twelve months on from his skiing accident in the French Alps, Michael Schumacher's manager says the seven-time Formula One champion faces a "long fight" on his road to recovery.
Monday (Dec. 29) marks the one-year anniversary of Schumacher's accident in Meribel. The head injury suffered that day saw the 45-year-old put into an induced coma, which he has since come out. He is now reportedly battling to recover bodily functions, per Reuters (h/t the Daily Mail).
There had been hopes that Schumacher was making some progress, but Sabine Kehm is quoted in the report stating that a long journey lies ahead:
"We need a long time. It’s going to be a long time and a hard fight. He is making progress appropriate to the severity of the situation."
Kehm felt the need to address the public on Schumacher's condition after claims from Philippe Streiff, a former Formula One driver who became a quadriplegic after suffering an accident of his own in 1989.
Speaking to French newspaper Le Parisien, per the Daily Mail's report, Streiff is alleged to have spoken with Schumacher's wife, Corinna, and surgeon Gerard Saillant, noting the German "had yet to recover the power of speech" but was "nevertheless starting to recognise those close to him."
The Frenchman went on to say that Schumacher's movement was limited but speculated that "long term...he could hope one day to walk with crutches."
Kehm insists Streiff has had no contact with Schumacher's entourage, however, dubbing it "factually wrong" that the 59-year-old had spoken with those he claims to have, adding:
"I cannot confirm that [report]. I can only confirm that I do not know where Mr Streiff has his information from because he has no contact with us and he never has."
Dr. Saillant would appear to confirm Kehm's dismissal, according to Agence France-Presse (h/t BBC News) saying that, in the past 12 months, he hasn't had contact of any sort with Streiff:
"For a year, I have never had any contact, verbal, written or physical with Phillipe Streiff."
Arsenal forward Lukas Podolski posted a tribute to Schumacher via his official Twitter account, encouraging his compatriot to continue the "long fight":
During his racing career, Schumacher displayed grit, determination and a great deal of fight, all the hallmarks required to reach the pinnacle of a sport in the manner he did.
A year after the his accident, the sporting world continues to hope Schumacher's recovery progresses, but patience is required, as stated by Kehm.