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Safety questions around 70.3 triathlon after death

A competitor in the Ironman 70.3 Sunshine Coast died of a heart attack during the swim leg. Members of the public raced to his aid in the water off Mooloolaba Beach. Photo: Contributed
A competitor in the Ironman 70.3 Sunshine Coast died of a heart attack during the swim leg. Members of the public raced to his aid in the water off Mooloolaba Beach. Photo: Contributed Contributed

SPECTATORS of the Ironman 70.3 triathlon held in Mooloolaba yesterday have called the safety of the event into question following the death of a competitor.

A 39-year-old man, father-of-three Peter Farlecas from Ormond in Victoria, was yesterday pulled unconscious from the water during the 1.9km swim leg.

He was competing in the orange-capped men's 35-39 age category, which started at 6.11am.

Ironman Asia Pacific CEO Geoff Meyer said the man suffered a suspected heart attack during the swim stage and despite CPR attempts, the man was pronounced dead at the scene about 7.15am.

A witness said there was a lack of safety precautions.

"There was no life raft, jet ski or boat on the beach or in the water on the side of the race where (the tragedy) happened," she said.

The woman was standing on the platform of the Loo with a View watching friends compete when she saw four men splashing around in the water, about 100m offshore.

"One of the guys had his hand up and there had been a man floating out there for at least five minutes. Those guys had just been walking along the beach and stripped off and ran into the water to rescue him," she said.

"It must've been at least three minutes before a marshal wandered along in an orange high-vis vest and talked on his walkie talkie, and another three minutes before a doctor wandered down, and these men were still trying to get him out of the water."

A competitor in the Ironman 70.3 Sunshine Coast died of a heart attack during the swim leg. People attempt to revive the man on the beach at Mooloolaba. Photo: Contributed
A competitor in the Ironman 70.3 Sunshine Coast died of a heart attack during the swim leg. People attempt to revive the man on the beach at Mooloolaba. Photo: Contributed Contributed

All of this happened in full view of the public before a privacy screen was finally held up on the beach.

The woman said she was angry to hear the commentator of the event had mentioned the man had drifted off-course as a matter of jest over the loudspeaker, but no safety officials had gone to investigate.

"It just makes me angry that the competitors didn't have more safety (systems) to protect them if things went wrong," she said.

"A heart attack perhaps might not have been avoidable, but surely more could have been done to prevent him from drowning or to bring him back.

"These competitors are paying $400 to enter the race, they could've organised for the lifeguards to be on duty earlier or for more safety boats to patrol the area."

Mr Meyer would not comment on the events that unfolded, but confirmed the family of the man had been watching the race.

"It was a real shock and we are dealing with family and friends and staff involved and that's our main priority," he said.

"We are putting all our resources behind them."

Ironman entrant and Sunshine Coast Daily acting editor Grant Edwards competed in the same division as the deceased man and was unaware anything had happened until he crossed the finish line.

"The conditions were near perfect and it wasn't a rough, crowded swim," Mr Edwards said.

"It seems the incident was just an unfortunate, tragic accident."

Topics:  death editors picks mooloolaba triathlon



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