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Fans honour injured Schumacher on his 45th birthday

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By EMN Updated: Jan 04, 2014 11:25 am
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AP
GRENOBLE, JANUARY 3

MICHAEL Schumacher’s fans converged on Friday on a hospital in the French Alps to honour the Formula One great on his 45th birthday, just days after he was critically injured in a skiing accident.
Schumacher has been in a medically induced coma since Sunday, when he struck his head on a rock while on a family vacation. Bus loads of fans from Italy, where he anchored the Ferrari racing team, and Paris headed to the hospital in Grenoble where he is being treated.Gulio Carissimo drove for four hours on Friday morning to reach Grenoble. Wearing a Formula One Ferrari jacket and hat, he said he felt compelled to come.
“With all the joy he has given us with his victories, we had to be there,” he said.
The seven-time F1 champion has undergone two brain operations since the accident, and doctors treating him are keeping him sedated and his body at an artificially low temperature to help healing.
The physicians refuse to give a prognosis for Schumacher, saying they are focused on his immediate care.
Schumacher, known affectionately as Schumi by fans, is the most successful F1 driver in history, racking up a record 91 race wins. He retired in 2012.
Ferrari, which is bussing in fans from Italy to the hospital in the southeastern French city of Grenoble to stage a silent tribute, also put out a special message on its website, saying “Forza Michael,” or “Go Michael” in Italian.
“He is tackling the most important fight of his life and therefore we want to send him very special wishes,” Ferrari said, as similar messages poured in from around the world.
German former tennis ace Boris Becker wished Schumacher “Happy Birthday” on Twitter, adding “Fight Schumi” in a German hashtag.
In a message coinciding with his birthday, Schumacher’s family said they were touched by the support.
His family is at his side, including his wife Corrina, his two teenage children, his father Rolf and brother Ralph, who is also a racing driver.
“Following Michael’s skiing accident, we would like to thank the people from all around the world who have expressed their sympathy and sent their best wishes for his recovery,” the family said in a statement posted on Schumacher’s website.
“We all know he is a fighter and will not give up” they added.
Fans meanwhile left a poster outside the Grenoble hospital in English, saying “Schumi, All our Thoughts for You and Your Family.”
Schumacher’s fan club in his childhood town of Kerpen said any celebration of the birthday would be in bad taste.
There have been conflicting statements about the speed Schumacher was going at the time of his accident at the Meribel ski resort, where he has a property.
The impact split the helmet he was wearing in two, according to a source close to the investigation.
The hospital and Schumacher’s manager had briefed the press daily since the accident. But they did not do so on Thursday, instead promising to communicate only if there was something new to report.
The hospital has been faced with intense media pressure due to the frenzied interest in its famous patient. A vacant lot nearby has been turned into an impromptu parking area for numerous television satellite vans.
Schumacher, who made his debut in 1991, dominated Formula One, winning more world titles and races than any other driver.
He first retired aged 37 but was unable to resist the lure of the track. In 2010, he came out of retirement but was unable to recover his previous performance and quit for good in 2012.

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By EMN Updated: Jan 04, 2014 11:25:55 am