Navratilova `just couldn`t breathe` on Kilimanjaro

Last Updated: Sunday, December 12, 2010 - 23:34

Nairobi (Kenya): Martina Navratilova was
released from a Nairobi hospital today, three days after her
liquid-filled lungs forced her to abandon her attempt to climb
Africa`s highest mountain.

The tennis great was carried down Mount Kilimanjaro on
a litter Thursday night and Friday morning. Navratilova said
she knew by Wednesday she wouldn`t be able to summit the
19,340-foot (5,894-metre) mountain in Tanzania.

"I didn`t feel badly, I just couldn`t breathe. I
couldn`t get a full breath of air," Navratilova told reporters
shortly after being released from the hospital, where she was
treated for high-altitude pulmonary edema.

"Nothing hurt, and for an athlete that`s weird.
Nothing hurt but I (couldn`t) go on," she said.

The 54-year-old, who had a bout with breast cancer
earlier this year, reached nearly 14,800 feet (4,510 metres)
when a doctor with 27-person climbing team told her she needed
to descend.

Quitting, Navratilova said, is not in her vocabulary,
but "when the doctor said you`re going down, you`re going
down."

She was disappointed and frustrated, but trying to
push on would have been dangerous.

The winner of 18 singles Grand Slams, Navratilova kept
a diary during her four-day climb. Her last entry read:
"`I`ve never been so utterly exhausted. Everything is
taking monumental effort, going to the bathroom, getting
dressed, setting up tent. I don`t want to ever ...` I can`t
read it. I stopped writing because I was crying, because I was
so disappointed at how I felt," Navratilova said.

She wrote the entry Thursday afternoon, a few hours
before descending.

Two days before beginning the climb up Navratilova
told The Associated Press that she was in good enough shape to
get to the top but that she didn`t know if "the altitude will
get me. That`s something you can`t predict."

Once down from the mountain, Navratilova`s appetite
returned. She said she hadn`t been hungry for four days,
though at first she thought it may have been an intestinal
issue after eating bad fish today.

Kate Brewer, a press agent for the sports company
Laureus who was also on the climb, said the mountain guides
told the group that the weather was the worst they had ever
seen. Torrential rain, mist and cold plagued the group.

Bureau Report



First Published: Sunday, December 12, 2010 - 23:34

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