Zola's Comrades hopes dashed

2013-05-30 14:24
Zola Budd (File)
Cape Town - Zola Budd’s dreams of a silver medal in this year’s Comrades Marathon were shattered on Thursday, when she had to withdraw from the iconic ultra-marathon due to medical reasons.

A devastated Budd saw months of hard training and mental preparation come to nought as she has contracted a viral infection and has been advised by medical experts not to take part in the gruelling race. 

Budd arrived in the country prior to her second Comrades attempt last weekend and whilst spending some time with her family, started developing mild flu symptoms. As her condition deteriorated with the onset of fever and aching muscles, Budd was taken to the Milpark Emergency Unit, where blood tests confirmed a viral infection.

Dr Graham Monteith, head of the Milpark Hospital emergency department, seriously recommended that Budd withdraw from the Comrades. 

“Although flu symptoms mostly show up as a sore throat or common sniffles, the flu virus can also literally infect your muscle tissue, and the heart is a muscle that can also be affected.  Running an event as gruelling as the Comrades could cause heart muscle damage and lead to myocarditis, which can cause sudden cardiac arrest, or a loss of muscle tissue and decreased efficiency in the blood pumping capability of the heart,” explained Monteith.

As a competitive sportsman himself, Monteith was sympathetic to her desire to race, but cautioned Budd against competing.  

“I have seen too many of my fellow athletes compete despite flu symptoms and pay the price. Some died. Many of them never recovered completely to reach their full ability again. If you end up with a myocarditis, you will be out of commission and be unable to even train for up to six to 12 months.”

Zola is obviously very disappointed as she had been training hard and was set for a silver medal attempt. 

“I was really happy with my fitness levels and satisfied with my preparations for Comrades. I spent many solitary hours on the road as part of my preparations and have travelled halfway around the world to be here, so it is obviously very frustrating. I’ll just have to hold out for next time. Maybe if I wait three more years, I can come back to tackle the Comrades in a completely new age category, which could be very exciting,” mentioned Budd in Johannesburg.

Budd is sponsored by the Durban-based financial services business, The Unlimited, and runs in the company’s running club colours. Upon hearing about Budd’s illness, Steph Bester, CEO of The Unlimited, gave her decision a resounding thumbs up.

“Your health is precious and Zola’s decision to pull out of the race is the responsible thing to do. The Unlimited is all about people doing the extraordinary and Zola is proof that attitude is everything. Comrades or no Comrades, she is still an iconic hero in our eyes,” Bester said.

Dr Graham Monteith and Zola Budd (File)

Read more on:    comrades  |  zola budd  |  athletics

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