Friday 23 March 2018

'As much as I want children, I'll take that risk' - swimmer to take Rio Olympics Zika gamble

Olympic swimmer Fiona Doyle will not be put off competing at the Rio Games by the Zika virus Photo: Ramsey Cardy
Olympic swimmer Fiona Doyle will not be put off competing at the Rio Games by the Zika virus Photo: Ramsey Cardy
Allison Bray

Allison Bray

Olympic swimmer Fiona Doyle says nothing will stop her from taking her "only shot" at the Rio Olympics - even if means not having children due to the threat posed by the Zika virus.

While golfer Rory McIlroy has vowed to pull out of the Olympics if the threat of the virus intensifies, Doyle would consider "other options" if she contracts the virus linked to genetic defects in newborn babies.

"I would take the risk," she told the Irish Independent.

"As much as I want children, this is something that I've wanted for years and if it means taking that risk, then I'll take that risk and hopefully I'll be fine," she said.

However, she revealed the threat from the virus has already led her three sisters - including her twin Eimear (24), Ciara (21) and Sinead (30), to cancel their plans to travel with her for fear it could affect their future plans to have children.

Cancelling the trip of a lifetime was especially devastating for Sinead, who got married in December and was going to Brazil on her honeymoon, the swimmer revealed.

Fiona's twin, Eimear, who was also training for the Olympics as a swimmer but was forced to pull out due to a back injury, was just as devastated, she said.

As all of her sisters hoped to have children, they couldn't take the risk, she added.

But having spent half of her life training for the Olympics, Fiona said she was not going to let the virus destroy her dreams of Olympic glory, especially after she failed to qualify for the 2008 games and again in 2012 after missing the qualifying time by half a second. "This is something I've been trying to do since I was 12," she said. "When I didn't qualify in 2012 I was devastated. It was like somebody had died. So it's not as easy as just deciding 'I'm not going to go'," she said.

"I'm not Rory McIlroy. I can't decide in four years' time that I'm going to go again.

"It doesn't work that way for swimming. I'm at the peak at the moment.

"I'm at the right age for swimming, so this is my only chance and although it's kind of nerve-wracking that there's a chance I might catch it, at the same time, this is my only opportunity."

Golfing champion Rory McIlroy (27) told the BBC this week he may pull out of representing Ireland in golf if the virus poses a risk to his plans to have children with his fiancée Erica Stoll.

Irish Independent

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