Former South African triathlete Nick Bester is currently in an intensive care unit (ICU) after being attacked in an alleged assault on Sunday.
The incident happened in the Magalies Mountain near his home in Pretoria where the 60-year-old was training for the BrightRock Battle of the Sports.
According to a text message seen by Sport24, a source close to Bester said that he was "beaten with rocks, dragged up a hill and beaten again with rocks and tied up and left for dead."
"His injuries are very serious. Broken ribs, broken jaw, bad cuts in his head. Will report more info when I learn more. I have spoken to him going for x-rays to check for internal injuries," the source added.
Bester, who won the Comrades Marathon in 1991, is currently in Eugene Marais Hospital in Pretoria.
Bester's son Shaun-Nick Bester, who is a professional mountain biker, took to Instagram to share the gruesome photos of his father's attack.
The 29-year-old stated that the attackers "took off his clothes and tied him up and left him" on the mountain.
"He managed to escape down the mountain by sliding on his back until he was right against someone's fence. He is in ICU at the moment and they are doing more scans," he wrote.
Bester was set to take part in the BrightRock Battle of the Sports, which sees four teams from various sporting codes go head-to-head in an all-out 200km endurance race.
Bester was preparing for the fund-raising initiative, which will help raise money to fight the Covid-19 pandemic in South Africa.
- Compiled by Lynn Butler