Swimmer suffered injury so gruesome he thought his eye had come out of its socket
"I couldn't see anything — I thought my eye had fallen out in the water."
Team GB swimmer Hector Pardoe has described the moment he suffered such a bad injury that he thought his eye had fallen out.
Pardoe was competing in the 10km swim marathon swim during the Tokyo Olympics when he suffered the injury. He even asked a lifeguard to check for him that his eye was still there.
The 20-year-old was just a couple of kilometres from the finish when a fellow swimmer caught him in the right eye with an elbow, opening a large wound and forcing him retire from the race.
"On my last lap, I took an elbow to the face," he told Eurosport. "I thought I'd lost my eye. My goggles came off completely. I always hoped that if I got injured like that, I'd be able to finish the race, but my goggles fell off and I couldn't even get them.
"I couldn't see anything — I thought my eye had fallen out in the water. I went up to the lifeguards and said: 'My eye, my eye! Is it OK?' They weren't giving me a very decisive opinion, and I had to get out after that."
After the race he said that it was fine and the wound would be stitched up once he got back to the Olympic Village.
Commentator Andy Jameson later tweeted a picture of the Pardoe's eye, describing the injury as "utterly brutal."
Utterly brutal … Great Britain’s @hector_pardoe had to withdraw from the men’s Olympic Marathon Swim (10k Open Water) very close to the end after receiving a forearm smash to the eye socket! Nasty … especially considering he had swimming goggles on! Great effort up ‘til then! pic.twitter.com/3ODAh0LZab
— Andy Jameson (@Andyjamesonswim) August 4, 2021
The race was eventually won by Germany's Florian Wellbrock. Pardoe said that he panicked when he saw how far behind he was.
"It wasn't really what I expected from the start. I started really fast from the front, really warm conditions that I'm not used to," he said. "I've never raced in such hot waters.
"I started to panic when I was behind, I could see that any chance of top-five, top-six was over. I was trying to secure it as much as I could, didn't get the top-10 finish. I did well to catch the group up, I was feeling OK, I got back into it."