Sun, Mar 03, 2002 - Page 16 News List

Taiwan's injured athlete has seizures

CRITICAL CONDITION The nation's Olympic bobsledder remains in intensive care after a devastating car crash and has had four seizures which have mystified doctors

By Jules Quartly  /  CONTRIBUTING REPORTER

Taiwan's Olympic bobsled hero is still in a critical condition after a horrific crash with an 18-wheeler truck last week in the US.

Steve Lee (李嘉展) is still in emergency care in Davenport, Iowa and has had a series of seizures which have mystified doctors.

Lee and Sam Huang (黃柳宗) were hit by the truck when they veered off the road in Iowa, on their way home after the winter Olympic Games

Lee lost a kidney and parts of his small and large intestines. His spleen was damaged and his leg was badly broken.

In an e-mail to the Taipei Times, Huang said, "Steve is mostly sedated and still can't talk due to the tube in his mouth. He still has his eyes closed and can only answer yes or no questions.

"[He] still has a fever of 102 degrees and he has had four mysterious seizures. Last night [Friday] they ran some tests and still don't know why he has had the seizures."

Family matters

Lee's family in Taiwan has been kept up to date with the injured bobsledder's condition through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Lee's mother was flown out to the US by the government to be with her son.

In other developments, the future of Taiwan's Winter Games program is expected to be discussed in the coming week by the National Council of Physical Fitness and Sports, and the Chinese Taipei Olympic Committee.

There are fears the nation's bobsled and luge teams will be scrapped because of their relative lack of success at Salt Lake City and the trouble generated by the teams' participation.

Honorary Chairman of the Chinese Taipei Amateur Luge and Bobsleigh Association Hsu Chi-you (許啟祐) said, "There was quite a lot of trouble at the Games, so we don't know what will happen next.

"We actually have a good track record in this field [bobsledding]. Twenty-ninth in the world and second best in Asia is not bad, but some people in the central government think we are not doing so well," Hsu said.

"It's a bit strange. In the US and other countries we are heroes because we are a hot country participating in a cold-weather sport. Here, we are not so popular."

The bobsled and luge association is given NT$840,000 annually by the government and has competed in the Winter Games since 1986.

Hsu said this was cheap compared with other countries. "The US got silver and bronze in the four-man bobsled, but it took 46 years for them to do this and in their own country."

He said that with NT$2 million annually the bobsled and luge teams could compete on a level-playing field with Japan, which placed 20th in the four-man bobsled event at the Olympics this year.

In a renewed bid to win a gold medal -- which Taiwan has never won -- the sports council decided before the Games it would focus on 15 sporting events.

These events -- such as table tennis and taekwondo -- were estimated to be Taiwan's best hope for a gold medal.

As a result, Hsu said, Taiwan's continued participation in the luge and bobsled events could be at risk.

"They think we are trouble-makers but we have a right to our opinion and to criticize things if they are obviously wrong," Hsu said.

"Otherwise it is like being in a communist country. Some people say that we should not criticize even if we are right because it will only bring trouble."

Hsu said the government might concentrate on short track speedskating instead, after A Yang Yang's victory for China in the event.

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