In March 2017, a snowboarding accident left Mark McMorris in a hospital bed with multiple broken bones, a collapsed lung, a ruptured spleen and more

By Char Adams
February 12, 2018 10:09 AM

Just 11 months ago, Mark McMorris lay in a Canada hospital with 17 broken bones, a collapsed lung, a ruptured spleen, a fractured jaw and internal bleeding. But on Sunday, the 24-year-old snowboarder won the bronze medal in men’s snowboard slopestyle at the 2018 Winter Olympics.

“I’m pretty stoked because people would die for a medal at the Olympics — and I nearly did,” the athlete told reporters on Monday. “To stand on the podium again, it definitely feels special. Yeah, it’s definitely a miracle and I’m really thankful.”

The Regina, Canada, native navigated an intricate course filled with jumps and rails to take home the medal. After the win, McMorris tweeted a grateful message: “Thank You Life🙏🏻❤.” He included a pair of photos, one showing him in a hospital bed nearly a year earlier, and the other of himself holding the medal.

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In March 2017, McMorris was snowboarding in Whistler, British Columbia, and mistimed a jump, CNN reports.

Mark McMorris/Twitter

“Hit a tree out of mid-air and pretty much broke everything and hurt a lot of internal organs,” he told CNN. “[I] was lucky enough to have my brother and a really awesome crew that had a satellite phone and got a helicopter there and pretty much saved my life. So pretty lucky.”

Keep Following PEOPLE’s Complete Coverage of the 2018 Winter Olympics

McMorris said that as he lay waiting for a helicopter that day, he was sure he wouldn’t survive.

“When I was laying there I was pretty sure I was gonna die because I had so many broken bones,” he told CNN. “I could tell there was a lot wrong inside.”

But McMorris made it.

On Sunday he stood proudly on the Olympic podium in Pyeongchang and smiled wide as he held up his medal. Soon, the Twittersphere flooded with praise for the snowboarder, with ski racer Lindsey Vonn calling the win “amazing” in a tweet.

“What a journey back to the podium for @MarkMcMorris. Mark – your tenacity & courage inspire so many of us. #PyeongChang2018,” Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted on Sunday.

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McMorris told reporters that he’s happy to see his story in headlines.

“At the time I wish it hadn’t happened, but now it’s so cool that so many people have reached out and said ‘you’ve helped me through this part of my life or motivated me,’ ” he said.

The 2018 Winter Olympics began on Thursday and continue through Feb. 25.

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