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Joachim Girard's life hung by a thread after cardiac arrest at the Olympics: 'I'm glad I'm still here' |  the Olympics

Joachim Girard’s life hung by a thread after cardiac arrest at the Olympics: ‘I’m glad I’m still here’ | the Olympics

Games for people with special needs“I thank the doctors who saved my life.” At a press event in Charleroi, wheelchair tennis player Joachim Girard told his story for the first time Cardiac arrest during the Paralympic Games – Everything was fine. Gerard was given the green light to continue his career after having a pacemaker implanted: “In Paris 2024 I want revenge with Paralympics gold.”

On September 1, Gerrard was admitted to a hospital with a “heart problem” during the Paralympic Games in Tokyo, but exact details about what and how have yet to be announced. Also on their return to Belgium, Gérard and his crew were silent – Joe wanted to get to his family first and they would talk in time. The time was right today and he and his entourage hosted a press moment at the Spiroudome in Charleroi.

(Read more below the video)

Video: Paralympic Committee Olek Kazimirowski further clarified this summer about the entry of wheelchair tennis player Joachim Girard.


His account shows that Gerrard is glad he can retell it: He was the victim of a cardiac arrest in an Olympic apartment building for Belgians at the Games, similar to what happened to soccer player Christian Eriksen on the field during last summer’s European Championships. Rapid intervention proved necessary to save Gerard’s life. His coach Damien Martinquet, among others, managed the first concerns, but thankfully the doctors were nearby too. It so happened that German doctor Anya Hirschmiller, who was staying in the building, passed by and did chest compressions with two of her Brazilian colleagues, Leonardo Geddes and Gustavo Torres. When Gerrard lost consciousness, they were able to revive him with the shock of an external pacemaker.

“Thanks to them I am still here today. I have to thank everyone who helped and supported me,” said Girard, who does not remember much of the incident itself. “I know I felt strange. And for two days before the cardiac arrest, I also felt abnormal fatigue and slept poorly.”


Tokyo is now a bad memory, but the Paralympics remains a magical tournament. In Paris 2024 I want revenge. So why not target gold?

Joachim Gerard.



Gerrard underwent a pacemaker implantation in the first week during his stay at Saisekai Central Hospital in Tokyo after consulting with Belgian doctors from Marie Curie Hospital in Charleroi. Girard also underwent many medical examinations upon his return to Belgium. But the exact cause of the buildup cannot be determined immediately. It may have something to do with dehydration (excessive loss of body water, ed.), but this is a hypothesis. Many healthy tennis players also experienced the extremely hot and humid weather in Tokyo,” it seems.

Gerrard was uncertain for some time whether he would be able to continue his tennis career. He’s been one of the world’s top players in wheelchair tennis for years, and this year he won his first two Grand Slam tournaments at the Australian Open and Wimbledon. At the Paralympic Games in Rio 2016 he took the bronze, but his ambition to win the gold medal in Tokyo 2021 failed in the third round, and two days later cardiac arrest occurred.



After the tests, Gerrard also quickly received the green light from doctors to resume tennis under close medical observation. Five weeks ago he started his first physical exercises, three weeks ago he started training tennis again. The goal is to resume competition in January with the Australian Open as well. “I feel very good right now. I still need to gain some weight, but I still have a month and a half left,” says Gerrard. “Doctors assured me that I could continue my sport with a pacemaker. Many great athletes are in the same position as me. Sport is very important to me. It is my profession, but I also enjoy it a lot.”

Gerrard looks at life differently now. “I’m glad I survived. I realize it so well in my head. I enjoy the moments with my family and loved ones the most. I am also grateful to all the people who have supported me. I received a lot of messages, both from anonymous people and from famous tennis players, like Kim Clijsters.”

He also doesn’t want to let fear control his life: “I see cardiac arrest as a one-time unfortunate event, but life goes on now and I’m setting new goals in my sport. I want to be number one in the world. Tokyo is now a bad memory, but the Paralympics remains a magical tournament.” In Paris 2024 I want revenge. So why not target gold?”



Wheelchair tennis player Joachim Gérard returns home after his stay in the Japanese hospital

Wheelchair tennis player Joachim Gerrard doing well after emergency entry in Tokyo: ‘He needs a rest’

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