Tuesday 17 January 2017

TV presenter Charlie Webster 'battling for survival' after contracting rare form of malaria on her way to Rio

Ryan Wilkinson

Published 18/08/2016 | 06:13

Webster's condition deteriorated by 9 August Pic: @CharlieCW
Webster's condition deteriorated by 9 August Pic: @CharlieCW
Webster just a day after being taken to hospital Pic: @CharlieCW
Allen Leech, right, who played Tom Branson in Downton Abbey, and Charlie Webster split up in December, with the pair saying it was amicable and they wanted to pursue their own careers Credit: PA
Charlie Webster and Allen Leech
Charlie completed an Ironman Challenge last year. Photo: Instagram @CharlieWebster
Charlie Webster
Allen Leech and Charlie Webster attends the EE British Academy Film Awards Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
Charlie Webster and Allen Leech attends the IWC Gala dinner in honour of the BFI at Battersea Evolution

Television sports presenter Charlie Webster, a television host working with the Team GB Olympic media team, was in an induced coma in a Rio hospital last night with a rare strain of malaria.

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The 33-year-old became unwell on August 6 after watching the Olympic opening ceremony, having arrived in Rio a few days before.

Webster just a day after being taken to hospital Pic: @CharlieCW
Webster just a day after being taken to hospital Pic: @CharlieCW

She was admitted to hospital where doctors thought she was dehydrated following the gruelling six-week Ride to Rio challenge.

However her condition deteriorated after developing a severe complication from a bacterial infection.

Her family has travelled from the UK to be at her bedside as she was placed in an induced coma last night.

"There are real concerns for her, it is a serious condition," said a source close to the star last night. "We are so worried for her but at the same time she is very fit so we are praying she will pull through."

Webster, a former Sky and ITV sports presenter, had cycled 1,600 miles from Recife in the north-east of the country to Rio de Janeiro in 39 days with the widower of breast cancer fundraiser Jane Tomlinson.

She appeared to be in good health when she arrived in the Brazilian capital on August 4 and was due to stay on in Rio as part of Team GB's Great Britons campaign alongside Nick Grimshaw and Jodie Kidd.

Allen Leech, right, who played Tom Branson in Downton Abbey, and Charlie Webster split up in December, with the pair saying it was amicable and they wanted to pursue their own careers Credit: PA
Allen Leech, right, who played Tom Branson in Downton Abbey, and Charlie Webster split up in December, with the pair saying it was amicable and they wanted to pursue their own careers Credit: PA

The marathon runner shared her frustration with her fans on social media the day after she was admitted to hospital, writing: "6 weeks on the road ends in this. Very rough day, severe dehydration & infection - 2 drips & antibiotics #Rio".

But Webster remained positive, telling fans on August 9: "I'm getting there ... awful few days with serious infection #Rio."

She posted a photo showing her lying in a hospital bed hooked up to a drip, but smiling, adding later: "Looking forward to being a part of @TeamGB here at #Rio2016."

However Webster made no more posts and a statement on her Facebook and Twitter profiles on August 11 revealed how her condition had worsened.

It said: "Charlie has updated you all throughout her cycle and we know her silence was causing concern.

"On Saturday, 6th August, Charlie became unwell and was admitted to hospital in Rio de Janeiro.

"What was initially thought as dehydration, caused by her riding to Rio, has since been diagnosed as a severe complication caused by a bacterial infection.

"Charlie is receiving great care and we will update when we can."

Webster, who once dated Downton Abbey Irish star Allen Leech, and Mike Tomlinson set off on the first leg of the Ride to Rio challenge on June 27, cycling 1,300 miles to Lisbon.

They cycled 90 miles a day with only one rest day each week before arriving at the Maracana stadium on August 4.

The Ride to Rio campaign wished Webster a speedy recovery via Twitter, describing her as a "tough lady".

A Foreign Office spokesman said: "We are providing support to a British woman who is in hospital in Rio."

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