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'That should never happen' - Scottish marathon runner's collapse sours final day of Commonwealth Games

The delay in treatment to Callum Hawkins has been widely condemned, as have photo-snapping fans.

Image: AAP/PA Images

A MARATHON RUNNER’S dramatic collapse struck a sour note on the last day of the Commonwealth Games as hosts Australia finished runaway winners on the medals table with 80 golds.

Organisers defended the medical response but criticised bystanders for snapping pictures of a stricken Callum Hawkins, who keeled over two kilometres from victory.

In temperatures nudging 30 degrees Celsius in Gold Coast, Scotland’s Hawkins wobbled and went down twice, lying prone for some time before help arrived.

The 25-year-old struggled to his feet to continue but was clearly in distress and shortly afterwards, with just over a two kilometers to go, he stumbled heavily into a roadside barrier, banging his head as he fell.

There was an anxious wait before any assistance reached Hawkins, by which time Australia’s Michael Shelley was passing the scene on his way to winning gold.

“I like many others was distressed to see a wonderful athlete like Callum collapse during the closing stages of today’s marathon,” said chief organiser Mark Peters.

“I was also concerned about the behaviour of a small number of bystanders who chose to take images. This is not in keeping with the spirit of GC2018.”

TV commentators and viewers blasted Hawkins’ wait for medical assistance, with the BBC’s Steve Cram labeling it ‘a disgrace,’ while many also criticised the bystanders who took pictures and filmed on their phones.

Marathon world record-holder Paula Radcliffe tweeted that there were “big questions” for the organising committee and medical staff.

“That should never happen,” she said.

COM18 MARATHON MENS Source: AAP/PA Images

Hawkins was taken to hospital in an ambulance, where he was sitting up and talking and not thought to be in serious danger, Team Scotand said.

Medical staff with radios were posted every 500 metres along the course, the organising committee said, adding that medical help was given to Hawkins when he requested it.

Under marathon rules, runners are disqualified if they accept medical aid. Peters said help arrived “within agreed response guidelines and time-frames”.

Seven of the 24 starters failed to complete the race, including Tanzania’s Saidi Juma Makula, who collapsed close to the finish line before being helped into an ambulance.

Another Tanzania runner, Stephano Huche Gwandu, took a tumble as he crossed the finish line and was helped into a wheelchair.

After retaining his Commonwealth title, Shelley said he had also been struggling with the hot conditions.

“I wasn’t sure what was going on,” the Australian said, about seeing Hawkins in trouble.

“I had a couple of mates around Main Beach who said Callum was in a bit of trouble. They told me to keep going and gave me encouragement.

“I saw him and just tried to hang on. When I was coming down the home straight I tried to accelerate but I was just gone.”

“I’m glad to be finished to be honest,” added Shelley. “I thought hopefully I can get to the finish line because I was starting to get cramps in my hands.”

Shelley won the race in two hours, 16 minutes and 46 seconds with Uganda’s Munyo Solomon Mutai taking silver (2:19:02) and Scotland’s Robbie Simpson bronze (2:19:36).

Helalia Johannes won the women’s race in 2:32.40, becoming Namibia’s first female gold medallist at the Commonwealth Games.

The hosts concluded the 11-day Games, involving 71 nations and territories, with 80 gold medals, way ahead of England’s 45 and India’s 26. The tally also includes para events.

© – AFP 2018

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