A local club cyclist I know is currently keeping a vigil at his son's hospital bedside after he became critically ill. The young man, aged 21 suffered a heart attack and needed a few minutes before his heart re-started. He is now about to undergo cardiac surgery. The boy was extremely lucky - not least because he happened to be in a GPs surgery at the time of the cardiac arrest - he was there becaused he'd been feeling unwell. We are all keeping our fingers crossed that he pulls through.
This news takes me back to 2005 - a year when two club cyclists did not pull through. Barry Elcome had had cardiac problems and sadly succumbed to his illness in the summer of 2005. John Ibbotson's death from a heart attack on 27th September that year was even more of a shock as he had shown no signs of malaise or illness - a sudden death. Both of these cyclists were fit, healthy young men who trained regularly for their sport. Yet unbeknown to them, they were victims of a silent heart disease which would cut them down in their prime. The whole of the cycling community in the South East was rocked by the sad news of these two prodigies, who had made great contributions to the local cycling scene.
Fortunately, research is being carried out to find the causes and treatment of the condition. Also, with screening programmes in place to for high risk patients, this will hopefully reduce the number of Sudden Cardiac Death cases in young athletes.
In memory of "Ibbo", the John Ibbotson Memorial Fund was set up to help develop young riders wishing to race in Europe.
Proceeds from the Ibbo Cake Quest bike ride, taking place on 14th October will go towards this fund.
I plan to support this event as it is my way of remembering John and the enthusiasm that he brought to cycle sport.
Nothing can be done to bring back these 2 young men. Fortunately medical research and screening for cardiac defects are being carried out to avoid this type of tragedy in future in young athletes.
picture by John Mullineaux (LondonCyclesport.com)