Hector Pardoe’s Olympic Debut Cut Short After Being Hit In The Eye By A Stray Elbow

Hector Pardoe
Hector Pardoe: Photo Courtesy: FINA

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Hector Pardoe‘s marathon race came to an abrupt end on the final lap when a stray elbow hit him in the eye and he lost his goggles, forcing his withdrawal on his Olympic debut at Odaiba Marine Park.

The 20-year-old had been confident after winning the FINA qualifying race at Setubal, Portugal, in June  although the field was soon stretched following the pace that was immediately set by eventual winner Florian Wellbrock.

Pardoe worked his way up to 13th and was eyeing at minimum a top-12 finish but on the final lap, he came into contact with a flying elbow that left him with a deep cut above his eye.

He explained:

“I got an elbow in the eye – I’m not sure who it was – on the last lap. My goggle snapped off and I couldn’t see a thing. It swelled up and I didn’t realise how bad it was –  it was all blurry my eye I lost my goggles and my race was over

“I couldn’t see initially- when you get hit it goes all blurry and I was waiting for it (his sight) to come back and then the goggles were gone.”

Picture courtesy: Andy Jameson twitter

It was a shuddering Games bow for Pardoe who left England for France and Montpellier where he is coached by Philippe Lucas.

Unable initially to speak the language and with Covid restrictions meaning he was unable to travel home to see family and friends or them to him, it further forged a strong character.

There was regret that he was unable to complete the race.

“I’ve never not finished a 10km before, so yeah it’s really disappointing it’s in the Olympics, the biggest stage of them all.

“I’ve been progressing through every race this year and thought I had a good chance of doing something good here.

“I obviously saw from the start it was such a fast pace and I was towards the back, but I tried to calm down and bring it back and secure a top-10 or 12 finish. I was coming through the field and felt ok with a lap to go, I felt like I could of secured that and then it was over.”

The water temperature was given as around 29 degrees although it had been 29.3 at 3am of the women’s race the previous day so it may well have been somewhat higher with several men disposing of their caps shortly after entering the water.

Pardoe said:

“It was really hot, I noticed my heartrate was really high on the first lap when I wasn’t even pushing that much, so it’s nothing I’ve ever really experienced before – I think the hottest I’ve ever done is like 23 degrees so to jump to 29 is really difficult.”

It wasn’t what the Briton had been hoping for at his Games bow but he turned his sights to Paris in 2024, saying:

“I knew that after three laps it was over for anything top six, but I just wanted to finish and get that top twelve because I’m still young and know I can come back stronger in Paris and hopefully try and challenge for the medals.”


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