Saturday, December 11, 2010

Altitude forces Navratilova down from Kilimanjaro

Martina Navratilova's dream of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro has been halted by her worst fear about the adventure--the effect of altitude on her body. Trekking through heavy snows and mist, and unable to perform some of the needed acclimatization exercises, Navratilova developed pulmonary edema, and had to be taken off the mountain on the fifth day of the six-day trip. She is currently resting in a hospital in Nairobi, where she was treated with diuretics. She is expected to have a full recovery.

Navratilova, a former WTA Tour great, and one of the world's leading sportswomen, made the Kilimanjaro trip to raise money for the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation. Before the climb, she said that she knew she was fit enough to complete the trek, but that she didn't know how she would respond to the altitude; Kilimanjaro is over 19,000 feet high.

On the fourth day of the trip, Navratilova wrote: "The weather is a little better, but the going is getting tougher and tougher. It seems to be constantly steep and as we started to approach the highest point yet, 4,500 metres above sea level, sheer exhaustion sets in for much of the group, and with heavy legs and chests pounding due to a lack of oxygen, every step becomes an effort."

Navratilova did not write another blog entry after the fourth day, and interviews were canceled. However, she did make a statement from her hospital bed: "It was something that I have wanted to do for so long, but it was not to be," she said, and added that she was looking forward to hearing about the successful end of the climb.


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- Daniel