Team GB’s Hector Pardoe revealed he thought he lost an eye when a stray elbow forced him to withdraw from the men’s marathon swim at Tokyo 2020.
Reigning world champion Florian Wellbrock dominated to win gold in the open-water 10km event, but Pardoe was unable to finish after suffering a cut above his eye.
Pardoe required medical attention immediately after climbing out of the water, and the Montpellier-based swimmer spoke of his horrific ordeal in the warm waters of Tokyo Bay – having feared his eye “had fallen out”.
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“It wasn’t really what I expected from the start, it started really fast from the front. Really warm conditions that I’m not used to, I’ve never really done a race in such hot waters,” Pardoe told the BBC.
“I started to panic when I was behind. I could see any chance of a top five was over, I was just trying to secure a top-10 finish. I was managing to do well to catch the group up, feeling okay.
Then in the last lap, took an elbow to the face. I thought I lost the eye. My goggles came off completely. I always like to think whenever I get an injury I’d be able to finish the race, but the goggles completely fell off and I couldn’t even get them.
“I couldn’t see anything, I thought my eye had fallen out in the water. I was going up to the lifeguard saying ‘My eye! My eye! Is it okay?’ They weren’t giving me a very precise opinion, then I had to get out after that.”
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