British Olympic sprinter James Ellington sues teammate Nigel Levine for £1million over head-on motorbike crash that ruined his running career
- James Ellington, 37, is suing his former fellow Team GB athlete Nigel Levine, 33
- He was struck head-on by Spanish motorist while riding as passenger of Levine
- Mr Levine’s insurers agreed to compensate but a trial will determine how much
A British Olympic sprinter is suing his teammate for more than £1million over a head-on motorbike crash that he claims ruined his running career.
James Ellington, 37, was struck head-on by a Spanish motorist while riding as a passenger behind fellow Team GB athlete Nigel Levine, 33, in Tenerife in January 2017.
Mr Ellington was consequently ‘robbed of a vital speed margin’ after suffering multiple fractures in his legs and pelvis, London’s High Court heard.
According to the complaint, the crash ‘put paid to sprinting’ for Mr Ellington at the highest level and prevented him from becoming a track superstar and enjoying a lucrative commentating career in his retirement.
Insurers for Mr Levine, who is coming off a four-year sports ban after failing a drugs test in 2018, have now agreed to compensate Mr Ellington. A trial scheduled for 2024 will determine how much is awarded.
The case came before High Court judge – Master Victoria McCloud – in a brief pre-trial meeting this week as lawyers discussed what expert evidence should be heard at trial, and the likely £500,000 in legal costs.
James Ellington (left), 37, was struck head-on by a Spanish motorist while riding as a passenger behind his fellow Team GB athlete Nigel Levine (right), 33, in Tenerife in January 2017
James Ellington posted a picture of himself in his hospital bed on Instagram following the crash in 2017
Mr Levine’s insurers have now agreed to compensate Mr Ellington (pictured following crash in 2017), who is seeking damages of more than £1m. A trial will determine how much he will be awarded
Although he fought back from multiple leg fractures to log a remarkable 10.93 over 100 metres in 2019 and competed in the 2021 British Athletics Championships, Mr Ellington insists he was never again the same top flight runner he had been before the accident.
‘Mr Ellington sustained numerous orthopaedic injuries in the accident, including, most significantly given his profession, multiple fractures to both lower legs and a fracture to his pelvis,’ his barrister Katherine Deal told the judge.
‘In addition, he sustained a minor head injury and significant psychiatric damage.
‘At the time of the accident, he was part of Team GB in the best form of his career.
‘He had hopes and expectations of ongoing success on the track, which would then have led on to greater recognition, more remunerative sponsorship, and increased opportunities for commentating, coaching and other routes to income once he stopped racing.
‘His case is that he has lost out on the most successful and lucrative stage of his sporting career because of his injuries, and his financial losses are substantial.’
Speaking about the crash earlier this year, Mr Ellington said he and Mr Levine had been lucky to escape alive.
‘I was at the peak of my career when the crash happened and was running faster than I ever had. However, life then changed in a split-second.
According to the complaint, the crash ‘put paid to sprinting’ for Mr Ellington (pictured) at the highest level and prevented him from becoming a track superstar and enjoying a lucrative commentating career in his retirement
Speaking about the crash earlier this year, Mr Ellington said he and Mr Levine had been lucky to escape alive. Pictured left to right: Richard Buck, Michael Bingham, Richard Strachan and Nigel Levine celebrate winning the Men’s 4x400m Relay final event at the European Indoor Championships in Gothenburg, Sweden, on March 3, 2013
‘It’s been an incredibly tough few years with a lot of ups and downs. While I’m lucky to be alive, I’ve always been determined that the collision should not define me and have focused on getting back out on the track.
‘However, if it wasn’t for the collision I’m confident I would have kept on performing at the highest level and would have continued to represent my country at major championships.’
Ms Deal told the court this week that the former sprinter ‘seeks permission for expert evidence in the fields of athletics – to address inter alia how his racing career would have panned out and whether his assessment of his own abilities was realistic, and in sports marketing to address the routes to income open to professional sportsmen and women.’
At the time of the crash, both Mr Ellington and Mr Levine were taking part in a two-week training camp for British sprinters, and Mr Levine was himself badly injured in the collision, needing surgery to stabilise his pelvis.
A trial is now scheduled for 2024, which will look into the disputed issue of how much compensation Mr Ellington is due for his injuries.
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