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Olympic champ Van Dyken posts picture of herself smiling after injury

(Reuters) - Olympic swimming champion Amy Van Dyken said on Tuesday she was "doing great" and posted a photo to social media showing her smiling in the hospital four days after severing her spine in a quad-bike accident.

"Doing great today," she said on Twitter. "Making progress. First day I sat up. Thank you all for the thoughts and prayers."

Her family said Van Dyken crashed her all-terrain vehicle on Friday night and was airlifted to a hospital in Scottsdale, Arizona, where emergency surgery was performed on her spine.

A photo posted to Instagram showed Van Dyken smiling in a blue hospital gown, with two cuts on her chin, and balloons and stuffed toys next to her bed that were sent by well-wishers.

Her room was the most decorated in the intensive care unit, she tweeted from her account, @amyvandyken.

A second photograph - of her apparently being helped to sit up in bed by two nurses - was also published on the social media network, but later appeared to have been taken down.

The 41-year-old Van Dyken is one of the most decorated Olympic swimmers of all time, winning a total of six gold medals at the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta and the 2000 Games in Sydney.

Her family said her spinal cord was completely severed at the T11 vertebrae, but that a broken vertebrae stopped within millimeters of rupturing her aorta, and that she did not suffer any head trauma. Her husband, former Denver Broncos punter Tom Rouen, was with her when the accident happened.

(Reporting by Daniel Wallis; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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