Alix Popham says he’s ‘lucky to be alive’ after Ironman accident

Alix Popham says he’s ‘lucky to be alive’ after Ironman accident

Alix PophamImage source, Getty Images

Image caption,

Popham described having a group of other athletes swim over the top of him as “like being in a washing machine”

Former rugby player Alix Popham feels “lucky to be alive” after being kicked in the head while swimming during Sunday’s Ironman event in Tenby.

The ex-Wales flanker, who was diagnosed with early onset dementia at 40, was taking part in the west Wales event to raise money for a brain injury charity.

He was rushed to hospital after feeling dazed and “constantly vomiting”.

Citing two fatalities at a recent Ironman in Ireland, Popham added he was thankful not to have drowned.

“It was simply a freak accident – a group of elite athletes overtook me at the second buoy during my first lap,” said the dad-of three.

“I was plodding along at my own speed, concentrating on my stroke, when they just went right over the top of me.

“It was like suddenly being inside a washing machine, and the force was such that it even ripped my watch from my wrist.”

Image caption,

Back-rower Alix Popham won 33 Wales caps between 2003 and 2008

Although sufficiently gathering himself in order to complete the remaining 500 metres, Popham was forced to abandon the rest of the 2.4-mile (3.8km) sea swim.

The race also involved a 112 mile (180.2 km) bike ride and a 26.2 mile (42.2 km) marathon.

“Coming out of the water I really felt the worse for wear and my wife Mel said my eyes looked completely glazed over, as though I didn’t recognise her at all,” he added.

“I tried to go back in for the

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