Sup­port com­fort­ing

South Waikato News - - NEWS - By NATHAN BUR­DON

The Cantwell fam­ily have been con­soled by the huge amount of sup­port they have re­ceived from fam­ily, friends and even strangers since the death of Les­ley Cantwell in Tahiti on Fri­day.

The 26-year-old mother of one col­lapsed two hours af­ter win­ning her 5000m race walk event at the Ocea­nia Track and Field Cham­pi­onships last Tues­day, suf­fer­ing what doc­tors be­lieve was a subarach­noid haem­or­rhage in her brain.

Mem­bers of her fam­ily, in­clud­ing par­ents Shaun and Jude, brother An­drew ( for­merly of Toko­roa) daugh­ter Brooke, 3, and part­ner Tony Sar­gis­son ar­rived in Tahiti on Thurs­day night and Les­ley was taken off life sup­port the next morn­ing.

Les­ley’s fa­ther, Shaun, who hopes to re­turn to New Zealand with Les­ley’s body to­day, said the sup­port the fam­ily had been shown in Tahiti and from those back in New Zealand was ex­tremely com­fort­ing.

‘‘A guy from Auck­land phoned up and said he didn’t know me but he’d read about Les­ley and been moved to tears. He said he comes to Tahiti quite a bit and he’d phoned peo­ple he knows to come to the hos­pi­tal and sup­port Les­ley, be­cause she didn’t have fam­ily there yet.’’

In an ex­am­ple of the close-knit na­ture of ath­let­ics, and race walk­ing in par­tic­u­lar, the daugh- ter of the Cantwells’ for­mer neigh­bour in Ro­torua was com­pet­ing for Aus­tralia against Les­ley in Tahiti.

Her mother and daugh­ter were present when Les­ley col­lapsed and of­fered to go to the hos­pi­tal with her.

The Tahi­tian peo­ple had been in­cred­i­bly gen­er­ous in their sup­port, and Mrs Cantwell also thanked the wider ath­let­ics com­mu­nity, Air New Zealand, Air Tahiti, the Depart­ment of In­ter­nal Af­fairs and the med­i­cal staff who had cared for Les­ley, many of whom had gath­ered out­side the room to of­fer their con­do­lences when she was taken off life sup­port.

There did not ap­pear to be a link be­tween Les­ley’s com­pe­ti­tion and her sus­pected haem­or­rhage. Mrs Cantwell said it could have just as eas­ily hap­pened when she was on the couch at home, and there also did not ap­pear to be a link to epilepsy Les­ley had suf­fered since her teens. In­ter­na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Ath­let­ics Fed­er­a­tions vice-pres­i­dent and four-time Olympic medal­list Lord Se­bas­tian Coe had spo­ken as part of a trib­ute to Les­ley at the cham­pi­onships clos­ing cer­e­mony on Fri­day, and spoke pri­vately to the Cantwells af­ter­wards.

Ath­let­ics New Zealand has set up a fund for Les­ley’s daugh­ter, Brooke. Do­na­tions can be made through the ASB Bank, ac­count 12-3192-0002433-05.

SAD LOSS: Les­ley Cantwell pic­tured with her daugh­ter Brooke.

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