By Nick Mulvenney
GOLD COAST, Australia (Reuters) – The final day of the Commonwealth Games was marred when Scottish athlete Callum Hawkins was left without medical attention on the marathon course after collapsing in brutal heat during the last event of the athletics program.
Hawkins held a lead of almost two minutes after two hours of running in blazing sun and temperatures of 28 degrees Celsius (82F) on the roads of the Gold Coast when he was unable to continue, weaving across the road before collapsing.
The 25-year-old managed to get up and run another 100 meters or so but collapsed again just before the 40 kilometer marker, lying on the road in clear distress.
People watching the race on TV took to social media to express their outrage at the time it took to get medical attention to the Scot, reserving particular ire for those spectators taking photos of Hawkins.
Former athlete Steve Cram, commentating for the BBC, said it was a “disgrace”.
“Where on earth is the help?” he said. “You cannot just wait at the finish line. They’ve got radios… I think it’s disgraceful.”
Team Scotland later said Hawkins had been taken to hospital for treatment, as is normal procedure in such cases, and there were “no major concerns at this stage”.
Mark Peters, chief executive of the local organizing committee, said they would be investigating whether there had been an excessive delay in getting help to Hawkins.
“You can’t have medical people on every kilometer of the race,” he said.
“So they are professionally positioned the same as for our Gold Coast marathon, where we have 30,000 people. Obviously, the health of the athlete is absolutely prime.
“Sometimes the medical people arrive and the athlete has to make a decision as to whether they go on or not and I understand that was a part of the discussion.
“Incredibly, athletes in whatever state they are want to finish and we’ve seen that in other marathons.”
Peters said he did not think the conditions had been too brutal for the race to go ahead.
“Athletes run in snow, they run in 30 odd degree heat so we don’t think that’s an issue,” he said.
“Unfortunately, these incredible athletes sometimes run themselves to exhaustion and there’s rarely a marathon where somebody doesn’t collapse.”
Australia’s Mike Shelley passed the prone Hawkins and retained the marathon title he won in Glasgow four years ago in two hours, 16.46 minutes.
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney; Editing by John O’Brien)