Will Walker weighing up future in competitive cycling after heart problems reoccur
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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Will Walker weighing up future in competitive cycling after heart problems reoccur

by Shane Stokes at 7:07 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Injury
Synergy Baku team manager McQuaid says rider will be given time to decide next step

Will WalkerHe spoke with optimism last month in a video interview carried out at his Synergy Baku training camp, saying that he believed that he could return to a high level in the sport this year, but instead Will Walker is weighing up his future role in the sport after a reoccurrence of heart problems that have affected him in the past.

The issue reappeared during the Australian road race championships on Sunday, when the 28 year old was part of the day’s big breakaway. However towards the end of what was a very hot race he was forced to pull out of the race when the tachycardia, an excessively rapid heartbeat, reared up again.

“I was at 270 beats for an hour with almost no cardiac output. I had to have a cardio inverter to reset my rhythm after amiodarone [an antiarrhythmic medication used to treat ventricular tachycardia or ventricular fibrillation –ed.] did not prove successful,” Walker said.

VeloNation understands that while he remained conscious throughout, he was shaken by the incident and will take some time to weigh up what to do next.

Walker showed his talent very early on when he finished second in the 2005 world under 23 championship at 19 years of age. In January 2006 he soloed to victory in the Australian national championships, although due to his age he was not permitted to wear the Elite champion’s jersey that year.

He went on to a stagiaire slot with the ProTour Rabobank squad in 2006, being put into the Vuelta a España weeks after taking up that place. Being just twenty years of age, he struggled – understandably – with the workload, but finished the race in 112th place. He then did the Giro d’Italia the following year, netting tenth on a stage and a solid 57th overall. For a 21 year old, the performance pointed to a bright future.

However his health began to suffer and he was affected by heart rhythm problems, mononucleosis and Bell’s Palsy. Trying to keep his career going, he continued until February 2009 but then left his then-Fuji Servetto team, leaving the sport.

Walker explained to VeloNation in December that his health gradually improved and, feeling good in training, he decided to start racing early in 2012. He competed with the Drapac Pro Cycling team for the past two seasons.

After taking some good results including stages in the Tour of Tasmania, Toowoomba and Gippsland plus the overall classification in the latter, he decided to move back to Europe this year and signed a contract with the Synergy Baku team.

“After two years of training, I am ready to see if I can be quite good again and get back to those [past] levels,” he said then. “I can push my body and it seems to respond now.”

It was intended that he would ride a number of big events after the Australian championships, with the Tour of New Zealand and the Herald Sun Tour expected to be next on the list.

However he will now weigh up if it is possible for him to continue with the Azerbaijan squad and the sport itself, or if he will play things safe and retire from professional cycling.

Right now, days after the bad scare happened, he’s focussing more on his health. “I'm lucky to be alive! Life is great,” he said, showing that his priorities are in the right place.

Synergy Baku’s general manager David McQuaid said that the team will give Walker time to decide what to do next.

“There was a lot of confusion as to what had happened Will during the final stages of last Sunday's National's in Ballarat, with Pat Lane in the race and Jez [Jeremy Hunt] looking after both of them from the side of the road. Once it had all settled we knew that Will was in hospital in the company of family and was OK.

“Next step was a visit from Jeremy to the hospital and then some much needed days of R & R for Will. Will is back at home now, back to the same Will Walker as you know him. I'll have my first proper chat with the rider directly tomorrow.

“For us it was more important that his first days after his incident in Ballarat were with family and friends, not team pressures, of which on Will there are none. There is a time for everything.”

Also see: http://www.velonation.com/News/ID/15979/Will-Walker-video-Interview-Over-health-issues-former-top-Australian-talent-ready-to-push-hard-in-2014.aspx


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