Has an Olympic Athlete Died While Competing?

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Deaths have been part of sports for a long time, the rigorous routines that athletes go through all their lives just to gain fitness does not insulate them from death; sometimes they just collapse while in the middle of an event without any warning.

The Olympic Games have not been spared these unfortunate events, some of the games involves a lot of risks and eventually once in a while these risks become a reality and life is lost despite all the precautions taken. There have been cases of athletes dying in the course of the games.

Causes of Athlete Deaths

Olympic athletes are probably the fittest people and given the training programs they adhere to in preparation for the Olympics and other track events it is a rare occasion to see them collapse and die. However, it has happened before, and some of the causes cited in most cases are usually related to accidents. Nearly all the games involve speed, and occasionally collisions happen. In rare cases, these collisions turn tragic but most times athletes end up with minor injuries that can be handled easily.

Another probable cause of sudden death is the use of performance enhancement drugs, and these supplements are banned for a reason because they interfere with the normal metabolism of the body. Some of these drugs can lead to heart failure when the athlete is pushed to the limits and may cause death or permanent damage to vital organs of the body.

Notable Deaths Throughout Olympic History

The first recorded Olympic death was that of Francisco Lazaro, a Portuguese marathon runner who died of sunstroke and heart trouble in Stockholm. He had ran 19 miles before collapsing.

In 1960, a Danish cyclist named Knut Jensen collapsed and fell off his bicycle in the middle of the track and fractured his skull on impact and died.

In 1964, an Australian skier named Ross Milne, died after he veered off-course and crashed into a tree while training for the Winter Olympics in Austria, he crushed as he attempted to avoid hitting onlookers who were standing at the wrong place. In the same Olympic event another athlete, Kazimierz Kay met an untimely death when she got involved in a train accident, she was British.

In 1972 the most high profile Olympic Deaths occurred when 11 athletes from Israel were murdered by Palestinian terrorist group calling itself Black September, and the incident disrupted the 1972 Olympics with most nations pulling out their athletes in protest.

In the 1992 Winter Olympics a 27-year-old Nicolas Bochatay, a Swiss skier crashed into a snow machine and died while warming up in France.

In 2000 Hyginus Anugo, a Nigerian relay sprinter died after being hit by a vehicle while training in Sydney, Australia.

In 2010 a Georgian Olympian Nodar Kumaritashvili died just before the opening ceremony in Canada after he lost control of his sled during training and hit a steel pole and died.


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