Monday, January 02, 2006

and then reality bites your arse...

The local breaking news during the afternoon of New Years Eve was of the tragic death that morning of St John Ellis, a name that probably will mean nothing to a lot of people but for rugby league fans the world over the former Castleford winger will be well known.

Always a difficult player to stop with the ball in hand he was the sort of player you loved to hate as an opposition fan in the same way that you temporarily suspend all of your "normal" feelings when you're in a ground supporting your team and "hating" all of the opposition players who are better than yours.

When outside of the ground and in reality again you admire players of his like, not just because they are playing professionally a game that you would not have the balls to play yourself, but because almost without exception they are all very approachable and very nice blokes off the field, which is something that you cannot say about many overpaid professional soccer players.

Singe was 42 years old and into coaching after retiring from the playing game, and was taking his team, Doncaster Dragons, on a training session when he collapsed with a massive heart attack from which he could not be rescued, apparently he was extremely fit and always led his training seesions by example rather than by shouting from the sidelines, all of which makes the incident even more freakish, although not unique in our sport.

I've been thinking about this tragedy since hearing the news at 3pm on Saturday afternoon, death always seems so random when it occurs to the under 50's and it scares me that I do nothing to maintain any sort of standard of fitness other than pay a subscription to a gym that I rarely use, maybe this new year is the time to do something about that.

Ironically this follows just two weeks after I heard about a former neighbour in his early 40's who has just had a pacemaker fitted, for as long as I've known him he has been perhaps the fittest person I have known, he is/was a keen cyclist and uses his bike everyday to cycle to work which involves at least one very steep hill climb, he fell walks too and was just about to start a walk when he collapsed and was rushed to hospital where he was diagnosed with a heart problem and had the pacemaker fitted - apparently it is not unknown in people like him who have been super-fit all of their lives to find that as they grow older their naturally slow heart rate (normally the sign of an athlete), does not adjust to rapid changes in acivity as quickly as it should - it makes me almost glad that I have been a lazy bastard all of my life so far and is also giving me second thoughts about doing a 70 mile charity bike ride in June of this year.

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