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Team GB rower Will Satch aiming for Tokyo 2020 after heart operation

GB rower Satch aiming for Tokyo 2020 after heart operation
© Reuters
Satch topped the podium for Team GB in the men's eight in Rio, which added to his three World Championship golds.

Will Satch already has an Olympic gold medal, but just getting to Tokyo 2020 would represent an even bigger achievement for the rower.

Satch topped the podium for Team GB in the men's eight in Rio, which added to his three World Championship golds.

Being part of that successful 2016 team was made all the more impressive by the fact that Satch was battling atrial fibrillation, a condition that leads to an increased heart rate.

After the condition worsened Satch, 29, decided there was no option but to have a procedure to repair the problem in February 2018.

Using general anaesthetic, the surgeon used keyhole surgery to enter Satch's femoral vein where they created scar tissue to help remedy the problem.

Satch is back on the water and dreaming of a second crack at the Olympic Games.

"My heart wall is really thick and it created another rhythm in my heart and it became more prevalent when exercising. Previously it was when I was resting," Satch told Press Association Sport.

Satch, left, took bronze in London 2012 in the men's pair, but won gold four years later in the eights.
Satch (left) took bronze at London 2012 in the men's pair, but won gold four years later in the eights (Stephen Pond/PA)

"Leading into Rio it become more and more prevalent and I had a spell where it lasted two or three days.

"Your heart tries to beat 200 times per minute, it is in a spasm and it is fibrillating. It is just not working probably. So towards the end of a race when you are already on your red line and then you have to find a little bit more and it comes on, you feel horrific.

"It got to the point where it was becoming more and more common and I got quote emotional with it and it did stress me out.

"I was very keen on getting the procedure and I was really glad that I got it done. We were going to put it off until after the worlds in 2018 but it started getting more and more common."

Satch, who has been tipped to be part of the men's eights in Japan next summer, is a man with a big team ethic and it was the thought of letting his team-mates down that prompted swift action.

"I was potentially in my prime and I was getting this," he added. "I found it quite frustrating. It has taken about a year, but I feel comfortable now.

"It wasn't life or death, you can live with it but you can't be yourself.

"Some people don't know they have got it but because my heart is large – because I have done endurance training – it felt like I had no oxygen.

"The biggest thing for me was letting other people down, if I was in a single it wouldn't be a factor.

"It's very special. I have taken a step back and realised how special it is. I am more positive than ever. It is going to make it sweet if I can do it and get to Tokyo."

:: Will Satch was speaking at the launch of the SAS Ranking Points Index on behalf of SAS, Official Analytics Partner for British Rowing. For further information visit www.sas.com


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