Double sports tragedy

2011-02-14 00:00

TRAGEDY marred two sports events in the province yesterday, with a swimmer suspected to have drowned in the aQuellé Midmar Mile, and a runner having died after collapsing during the Nimbus Marathon Challenge at Hillcrest.

The Midmar Mile ended on a tragic note after a 45-year-old man went missing on Saturday afternoon while swimming his first-ever Midmar Mile challenge.

The search for Nick Mellet from Benoni in Johannesburg began immediately after Saturday's competition when he was reported missing as his tag was not registered at the finish line and he was nowhere to be found on land.

Mellet was last seen wearing a black Speedo and a yellow swimming cap and his registration number was 10803.

Midmar Mile race director Wayne Riddin told The Witness that this was the first case of this nature ever to be experienced in the history of the race.

Riddin said that if he knew this would happen, the competition would not have taken place.

"It was tough going through the event. The overall mood of the competition has been depressing," he said.

The search started late on Saturday afternoon and picked up again during the early hours of yesterday morning and late in the afternoon after the day's races had been completed.

"His family was here. His fiancée was with him on Saturday and his brother came as well," he said.

Police spokesperson Joey Jeevan told The Witness that an underwater search by police, Navy and Army divers was in progress right after the end of yesterday's race.

She said: "The search had to wait because police were not going to be able to dive under water while the race was on."

By later yesterday afternoon the search had been called off because of poor light, but will resume this morning.

Jack Haskins of the Pietermaritzburg dog unit said: "Our divers have gone underwater but have not found him. We don't know what happened to him. People suspect that he is in the water," he said. Haskins said about six of Mellet's family and friends were there, waiting and hoping that he would be found.

"The family said that Mellet did not suffer from any illness and he was a fit person who played top hockey," he said.

By yesterday afternoon, most of the Midmar Mile spectators were still shocked that the man had not been found.

"How can he just get lost like that? I can imagine what the family is going through. Let's just hope that he is somewhere alive," said one spectator.

Norrie Williamson reports that a 78-year-old runner collapsed and died in the Nimbus Marathon challenge in Hillcrest outside Durban yesterday morning.

Sibinda Zwezwe from the Ubunya Athletic Club was one of the over 2 200 runners who entered the two-lap race around the Hillcrest and Winston Park suburbs.

Four kilometres into the race, Zwezwe collapsed and was immediately attended to by other runners who applied cardiopulmonary resuscitation until the emergency rescue personnel arrived a few minutes later.

Zwezwe, who is thought to have had a heart attack, was pronounced dead on the scene.

The race, which was held in humid conditions, was won by Bluff Meats Formula One athlete Robson Chigara in two hours, 28 minutes and 11 seconds, with Helen Buley taking the women's race in three hours, 11 minutes and 31 seconds.

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