Athletes Who Had Covid-19 Fear They Might Never Reach Their Physical Peak Again

By Jessica Campbell
04 June 2020
Sports, Football, NFL, Coronavirus, Paulo Dybala, Von Miller
Image: Getty
Elite sportsmen who contracted the virus like Juventus's Paulo Dybala and NFL star Von Miller have endured lingering lung and health issues

Before 2020 became synonymous with a year of catastrophic bushfires, a worldwide pandemic, and protests around the world over racial injustice and police brutality, it stood as a harbinger of unity. As a sporting event, nothing quite seems to bring nations together quite like the Olympic Games. Tokyo 2020 promised to do just that, even with a sustainable edge. For a minute there, as the rest of the world braced for indefinite lockdown and unprecedented restrictions, the Olympics seemed destined to continue and like a buoy bobbing in the ocean, it evoked a sense of hope – if only we could just get there. But health is a priority, even when you’re a professional athlete better equipped to deal with infection than most. And when the International Olympic Committee announced the 2020 Games would be postponed, athletes had to contend with shelving their dreams for a future date. Few athletes envisioned they would have to contend with the virus itself, and  its lingering effects.

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As the New York Times reports, athletes who have experienced Covid-19 are now fearing their health might never return to the state it once was. The news comes after urologist Josh Fiske found himself wondering if he would ever be able to run again, as the 46-year-old avid jogger found his oxygen levels depleted and his body exhausted when battling with the coronavirus.

While the rhetoric surrounding the coronavirus has long been one that emphasised the risk posed to elderly people and those with pre-existing health conditions, health officials now know that no one is immune to the virus or better equipped to avoid the worst consequences.  Athletes largely fell into this belief, given the fact that their physical health and fitness is something the rest of us can only aspire to. But interviews with athletes who have suffered from Covid-19 paint a different picture – one where the battle to regain their fitness now seems fraught with anxiety.

The New York Times reports that athletes were “surprised at the potency of its symptoms” and struggled to “re-establish workout regimens” due to “lingering battles with lung issues and muscle weakness, and unsettling bouts of anxiety about whether they would be able to match their physical peaks.”

Health officials have since warned that coronavirus patients are at risk of long-term lunch issues, with a number of doctors reporting that patients of Covid-19 still have difficulty breathing months after the virus. Covid-19 can also increase the risk of blood clots which is a troubling fact for athletes as those who are prescribed blood thinners are then discouraged from participating in contact sports.

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With sports set to resume in the coming weeks, athletes will need to weigh the risk of competition against their own health. There’s still no vaccine for Covid-19 and it’s clear that even despite your fitness, the impact of the virus on health is staggering. For some though, this is simply a gamble they are willing to make.


Via GQ Australia