The link to TSA website article: http://www.triathlonsa.co.za/Public/ViewNews.aspx?id=725
Hereby my response to the TSA website bulletin regarding the investigation by the Medical Commission relating to the recent deaths in Triathlon and proposed plans to but safety issues in place.
I appreciate the effort TSA is putting in to prevent future deaths in triathlon races, especially due to heart related issues, but I believe that the new proposal to implement a rule that one must qualify at an Olympic distance race before participating in an endurance triathlon event would not add value or prevent future deaths. In my view this will only enrich race organizers and put a financial burden on athletes to enter races of which entry fees are already very high.
I am a competitive endurance athlete who have done six Ironman events and also completed in more than a dozen half Ironman events over the past seven years. This year alone I have done two half Ironman races and two Xterra off-road triathlons. I specialize in long distance triathlons and do not compete in sprint or Olympic distance races. In the majority of these endurance events over the past couple of years I have finished in the top ten of my age group and have also competed in the Ironman World Championships in 2009.
My reasoning behind this is that I suffered a heart attack just after finishing my last race (Xterra Grabouw, 24 February)
I would propose that in order to "qualify" to do an endurance triathlon an athlete would need to produce a doctor's certificate after completing a medical/physical exam to clear the athlete to participate in such an event.
In my case this wouldn't have help as they still don't know what caused the heart attack as I don't have a heart condition, history, any medical condition or high cholesterol but in many instances through an exam, ECG, etc. it may be determined if an athlete do have a medical defect and if such athlete will be capable to participate in an Ironman race.
Most athlete’s do have a medical aid and this won’t put any additional financial strain on the athlete. One might see a drop in participating numbers but it might just save a live or two and might make a specific athlete aware of a medical condition they might have.
One might consider the following criteria whereby an athlete must qualify for an Ironman event by doing a Half Ironman distance race as there is a huge jump from a half distance race to the full but to do an Olympic distance race to qualify for a Half Ironman distance race won’t prevent deaths in my opinion.