Running on empty, Canada’s Eric Gillis only had 30 kilometres in him on Sunday.
Three days after suffering a stomach virus that has struck several members of the Canadian team, the 37-year-old from Antigonish, N.S., dropped out around the 30-kilometre mark of the marathon at the world track and field championships.
Disappointed I wasn’t able to show my fitness today. Thursday came down with Norwalk, could have used few more days recovery, I’m ok now 🙂
Gillis made a beeline for his hotel room to recover after he pulled off the course, but the result would have been a major disappointment after his 10th-place finish in last year’s Rio Olympics, the highest marathon finish for a Canadian man since Jerome Drayton — who still holds the men’s national record — finished sixth at the 1976 Montreal Olympics.
Head coach Glenroy Gilbert said several athletes have come down with a stomach bug since they arrived in London from their training camp in Guadalajara, Spain, and he believed they might have picked it up in their London hotel, which is home during the championships for several international teams.
Looking for solutions
“We’ve been battling with a bit of … a Norwalk with some of our athletes,” Gilbert said. “There’s been a few athletes who’ve been quarantined and staff, from time-to-time from stomach ailments, and throwing up, that type of stuff.”
“There have been a number of cases of gastroenteritis reported by team members residing within one of the official team hotels,” the local organizing committee said in a statement Monday night. “Those affected have been supported by both team and LOC medical staff.”
Gilbert said while there haven’t been recent reports of new cases, there is “absolutely” a danger of more athletes getting sick. Team staff was trying to “figure out the best situation for our athletes, whether it’s moving them to the higher floors, because it seems to be a couple of floors where there are some issues with plumbing and things like that. So it’s just trying to figure out the best case scenario for them.”
With athletes living in such close quarters, stomach bugs often strike at major Games.
It was more bad news for Gillis, who’d had to withdraw from the Boston Marathon in April with an Achilles tendon injury. He still managed to stick close to the lead pack through the first 20km, and was in 32nd spot through the 30km mark.
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