South Africa ultra-marathon rising star Siphiwe Ndlela has died at a training camp in the Drakensberg.
The multi-gold medallist died on Friday shortly after he apparently took a herbal medication for stomach cramps‚ according to his coach‚ Mdu Khumalo.
Ndlela‚ who ran for the Nedbank Running Club‚ won gold in last year’s Comrades marathon when he finished 6th and gold in the Two Oceans marathon where came 9th. In 2016 Ndela came 7th in the Comrades marathon and secured 8th position at the Two Oceans marathon.
An emotional Khumalo‚ who has been Ndlela’s coach since 2015‚ said Ndlela was at a training camp in the Himeville area with five other athletes.
He said according to Ndlela’s fellow athletes he had just returned from his weekly check-up session at a high performance centre in Durban.
“Siphiwe told his compatriots that he was not feeling well. He went to the bathroom to cleanse himself with a herbal-based medication.
“He went back to the bathroom to relieve himself and came back sweating and asking for water.”
Khumalo said that after another athlete gave Ndlela water he began vomiting.
“He seems to have collapsed in the bathroom. The others took him to his bed. He was apparently crying and couldn’t speak properly.”
He said when his friends came back to check on him they found that he had stopped breathing.[tooltip id=”4500c2f113202943ff1ae30d00c9d4ac”] [/tooltip]“The paramedics came. They tried and tried and tried. There was nothing that they could do.”
Khumalo said Ndlela’s death was a massive loss to the country.
“It’s unbelievable. No one can understand it. Siphiwe had so much potential. He had the potential to go and win gold for South Africa at the world champs‚” he said.
He said since they had been training together‚ Ndlela had gone from strength to strength.
“He was one of those incredible athletes. Nothing was impossible for him to achieve.”
Cheryl Winn‚ chairperson of the Comrades Marathon Association‚ said Ndlela’s death was a huge shock for South Africa’s running fraternity.
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