British triathlete's death ruled a misadventure

Mr Stephen Begley had a pre-existing coronary artery disease, said the state coroner. An autopsy found a blockage in an artery supplying blood to his heart.
Mr Stephen Begley had a pre-existing coronary artery disease, said the state coroner. An autopsy found a blockage in an artery supplying blood to his heart.

A British triathlete who died after taking part in last year's Singapore International Triathlon had suffered cardiac arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythm) before he drowned.

In an inquiry into the death of Mr Stephen Begley, 42, State Coroner Kamala Ponnampalam said the financial adviser had a pre-existing coronary artery disease. She added that his medical condition had adversely affected his ability to remain safe in the waters off East Coast Park on Sept 10 last year.

State Coroner Kamala, who yesterday ruled Mr Begley's death a misadventure, said that in his autopsy, a senior consultant forensic pathologist found that there was a blockage in an artery supplying blood to his heart. In her findings, she highlighted steps to mitigate the risks of death or injury from cardiac arrhythmic episodes or other exertion-related disorders during sporting events.

"The participant needs to ensure that he is in good physical health before he embarks on a triathlon or other similar endurance-type events. The Sports Safety Committee recommends a pre-participation health screening to reduce the incidence of sudden death. Good rest prior to the event and proper hydration before and during the triathlon are essential for safe participation," said the coroner.

According to Mr Begley's triathlon teammates - Mr Paul Gerard Molloy and Mr Robert Richard White - the Briton had never told them about any medical problems, said State Coroner Kamala.

It was Mr Begley's first time participating in a triathlon. He was the designated swimmer of the three-man team and had to swim 1.5km in the sea.

Mr Molloy and Mr White were to handle the 36km cycle leg and the 10km run respectively.

 
 
 

The relay started at about 8.50am with the swim segment, and Mr Begley was spotted submerged in the sea about 45 minutes later.

He was taken ashore and a medical crew attended to him. Mr Begley was pronounced dead at Singapore General Hospital at 11.10am that day.

The race was co-organised by the Triathlon Association of Singapore (TAS) and event management firm Orange Room.

TAS honorary secretary Raymond Chong said that following an internal investigation, the event organisers decided to conduct a swim clinic and swim rescue simulation before all triathlon events. These will be done for the upcoming Singapore International Triathlon, which will be held on Sept 23.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 14, 2018, with the headline 'British triathlete's death ruled a misadventure'. Print Edition | Subscribe