Runner returns from spinal injury

Runner returns from spinal injury

Eight months ago, doctors told Zac Leow that he would not walk again, but the 28-year-old defied that prognosis as he crossed the finish line at the Sundown Marathon early yesterday.

The University of Western Australia student (pic) suffered a serious spinal cord injury and was partially paralysed in all four limbs after a cycling accident in Perth last year.

Having completed the 2012 Kobe Marathon in Japan in under three hours, his time of 2hr 41min 20sec in the 21km half-marathon was far from his best.

But the real significance went far beyond the result. He said: "The medical staff were pretty encouraging, but one physiotherapist in particular told me that I would never walk normally again, so I can forget about running.

"Every physiotherapist and doctor also told me it was not realistic for me to do endurance events within this year, so I am pretty sure they are all in shock now."

However, there is one person he credited most for getting him back to running. Fighting back tears, Leow said: "I wanted to do it for my hospital bed-mate back in Australia, Lachlan Cousins, who also has a spinal injury.

"When I said I wanted to run again, he was the only one who truly believed that I could and was full of encouragement for me."

Competing with "Lachlan" written on his forearm, Leow hopes his every step will increase Cousins' chance of recovery.

Admitting that the race was was a lot harder than expected as he has not fully recovered, he is still planning on taking part in the full Perth Marathon on June 15.

Meanwhile, in the 42.195km race, third-time participant Russell Ericksen clocked 3:00:03 to win the men's category, while Kenya's Susan Jemutai Chepkwony triumphed in the women's division in 3:28:33.

More than 30,000 runners took part in this year's Sundown Marathon, which saw the inclusion of the Benjamin Sheares Bridge for the half- and full-marathon routes.

Sundown winners

Men:

10km: Samson Kiplagat Tenai (32min 56sec)

21km: Geoffrey Birgen (1hr 14min 59s)

42km: Russell Ericksen (3:00:03)

Women:

10km: Vivian Tang (38:52)

21km: Mok Ying Rong (1:34:06)

42km: Susan Jemutai Chepkwony (3:28:33)


This article was first published on June 2, 2014.
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