Olympic Gold Medalist Andy Holmes Dies

Latymer old boy contracts water-borne bacterial infection

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Two time Olympic gold medal winner Andy Holmes has died aged 51. The former Latymer pupil is believed to have contracted Weil's disease, a bacterial infection transmitted through river water.

Holmes and Sir Steve Redgrave were part of Great Britain's coxed fours team that won at the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984.

The pair then took the coxless pairs gold in Seoul four years later, and won Commonwealth and world titles together.

Holmes was passionate about sport and played rugby with a young Hugh Grant while they were pupils at Latymer.

His interest in rowing on the Thames began at the school and he was coached by Jim Clark, who had won silver as part of the British eight at the Montreal Olympics in 1976.

After leaving school, Holmes joined the Leander club at Henley winning the Thames Challenge cup in the royal regatta in 1978. He was also a director of the Furnivall Rowing Club.

Last week local rowing clubs were informed by the British Rowing Association of a serious case of Weil's Disease, or Leptospirosis, contracted by a rower in the Thames.

"The water we row on is not always as clean as we would choose and while the risk of contracting Leptospirosis from recreational water is very small, the serious nature of the disease is such that we must be aware of the dangers and should take simple precautions to reduce the risk of infection," said a spokesperson for Tideway Sculler's School adjacent to Chiswick Bridge.

Leptospirosis is an infection caught through contact with infected animal urine (mainly from rodents, cattle or pigs). The causal organism can enter the body via cuts or abrasions of the skin or, the lining of the nose, mouth, throat or eyes. If flu-like symptoms develop shortly after contact with the water (1-3 weeks) then your doctor should be contacted and advised of the circumstances of exposure.


October 27, 2010