Alex Kopacz says he’s never felt so close to the grave. The Olympic champion brakeman in men’s bobsled is in hospital with COVID-19. (Twitter/Alex Kopacz)

Alex Kopacz says he’s never felt so close to the grave. The Olympic champion brakeman in men’s bobsled is in hospital with COVID-19. (Twitter/Alex Kopacz)

31-year-old Canadian Olympic bobsleigh champion hospitalized from COVID-19

Alex Kopacz entered London University Hospital on Wednesday and required oxygen to help him breathe

Alex Kopacz says he’s never felt so close to the grave. The Olympic champion brakeman in men’s bobsled is in hospital with COVID-19.

The 31-year-old entered London University Hospital on Wednesday and required oxygen to help him breathe.

“I’ve never felt so close to my own death before,” Kopacz told The Canadian Press from his hospital room Saturday. “It’s been horrible.”

Kopacz, of London, Ont., won Olympic gold with pilot Justin Kripps in two-man bobsled at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. The Canadians tied with Germany for the title.

Kopacz says the drug Tocilizumab administered to him Friday is helping him turn the corner.

“Sounds like a made-up word out of ‘Bedknobs and Broomsticks,”’ he said. “I’m getting more of my breathing back.

“I haven’t had a fever in over 24 hours. My coughing is severely minimized.”

Before he was admitted into hospital, Kopacz said he was racked with fever, a debilitating coughing and chills that prevented him from sleeping for days.

“I continued to be surprised that each day it was exactly as bad as the day before or worse,” Kopacz said. “There was no getting better. There are no rules.”

Kopacz’s responses to questions were short to conserve his breath. Too young to be vaccinated yet, Kopacz used what lung power he had to state the seriousness of his illness.

“It’s not a joke,” he said. “The only thing that’s a joke is people who don’t believe in scientists.. The anti-maskers are a joke. An absolute hazard to society.

“If you are so-called genetically likely to not be affected by it, I understand the cavalier attitude toward it, for sure. But then you pass it on to someone who might be highly predisposed like maybe I was.

“And then to literally push them to their dying breath that makes you responsible, especially if you know that you are sick.”

Kopacz expected to remain in hospital for a few more days, and wasn’t sure what the long-term affects of the virus might be on his health.

“I don’t know,” Kopacz said. “The only long-term effect I’m happy with is that I will live.”

He has a mechanical engineering degree from the University of Western Ontario. Kopacz was a varsity shot putter before attending a Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton identification camp in 2013.

He and Jesse Lumsden combined to push Kripps to the World Cup overall two-man title in 2018.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

CoronavirusSports

Just Posted

Workers had a busy time today repairing a broken main water line. (District of Houston photo)
Water service being restored

Main line on 13th had broken

Flags at the District of Houston administrative building were lowered last week following the news that the remains of as many as 215 children were found buried on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School. The flags were raised back up yesterday. (Houston Today photo)
Flags lowered in memory

Flags at the District of Houston administrative building were lowered last week… Continue reading

Bruce Tang- Unsplash photo
World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

“Older adults in our communities continue to find themselves in vulnerable situations… Continue reading

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Highway notices like this come down effective June 14. Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and commercial operation have hit local businesses in every corner of B.C. (B.C. government)
Province-wide travel back on in B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan

Gathering changes include up to 50 people for outdoor events

Calgary Stampeders’ Jerome Messam leaps over a tackle during second half CFL western semifinal football action in Calgary, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
CFL football will be played this summer in Canada

Governors vote unanimously in favour to start the ‘21 campaign on Aug. 5

Citizenship Minister Marco Mendicino holds a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020. The federal government is announcing that Indigenous people can now apply to reclaim their names on passports and other government documents. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous people can now reclaim traditional names on their passports and other ID

Announcement applies to all individuals of First Nations, Inuit and Métis background

Harvesting hay in the Fraser Valley. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
COVID-19: B.C. waives farm income requirement for a second year

Property owners don’t need minimum income for 2022 taxes

Cruise ship passengers arrive at Juneau, Alaska in 2018. Cruise lines have begun booking passengers for trips from Seattle to Alaska as early as this July, bypassing B.C. ports that are not allowed to have visitors until March 2022 under a Canadian COVID-19 restrictions. (Michael Penn/Juneau Empire)
B.C. doesn’t depend on U.S. law to attract cruise ships, Horgan says

Provinces to get update next week on Canada’s border closure

This undated photo provided by Girl Scouts of New Mexico Trails shows a scout donating cookies to firefighters in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, as part of the Hometown Heroes program. As the coronavirus pandemic wore into the spring selling season, many Girl Scout troops nixed their traditional cookie booths for safety reasons. That resulted in millions of boxes of unsold cookies. (Girl Scouts of New Mexico Trails via AP)
Thinner Mints: Girl Scouts have millions of unsold cookies

Since majority of cookies are sold in-person, pandemic made the shortfall expected

In this artist’s sketch, Nathaniel Veltman makes a video court appearance in London, Ont., on June 10, 2021 as Justice of the Peace Robert Seneshen (top left) and lawyer Alayna Jay look on. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Alexandra Newbould
Terror charges laid against London attack suspect

Crown says Nathaniel Veltman’s four counts of first-degree murder constitute an act of terrorism

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province's fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Most Read