The very sad news came this week that retired French elite triathlete, Laurent Vidal, died in his sleep at his home in southern France.
There has been a worldwide outpouring of emotion. I particularly enjoyed this video.
Life-threatening heart problems are unusual in Olympic-caliber athletes, but Vidal suffered an episode of cardiac arrest at the swimming pool last spring. I wrote about that episode and his remarkable recovery in a blog post that focused on cardiac arrest, more generally.
After his recovery, Vidal shared very little about his diagnostic evaluation, any conditions that were discovered, and any implications regarding his prognosis. He immediately retired from the sport of triathlon, though, and I suspect that he was advised that continued participation posed some danger. He remained physically active over these past months, though, and often shared pictures of himself bicycling or hiking. Media reports this week mention a pacemaker and I wonder if he actually received an internal cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) for “secondary prevention” in case of a repeat episode of cardiac arrest. Unfortunately, even an ICD doesn’t guarantee long-term survival in situations like this. It’s worth reflecting that Vidal’s first indication of a potential problem was a couple years earlier, when he had an episode of syncope, or fainting. That’s an important problem to get sorted out.
Vidal’s story surely reminds us that life is sometimes too short. The remembrances on social media this week speak to the way that Vidal embraced life. I wish I’d had the chance to meet Vidal. I’ll always remember his smiling face.