Ben Pattison reveals life-saving heart surgery after stunning 800m performance

By Sports Desk August 26, 2023

Great Britain’s Ben Pattison grabbed a brilliant bronze at the World Championships – and revealed he had life-saving heart surgery just three years ago.

The 21-year-old became the first British male athlete to win an 800m medal at the World Championships since Peter Elliott’s silver in 1987.

It came after an operation during the Covid pandemic to fix a heart issue which had seen his heart rate skyrocket to 250 beats per minute.

Pattison grabbed third behind champion Marco Aprop and Kenya’s Emmanuel Wanyonyi in Budapest.

He said: “I had Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome. It was a bit scary at the time. It was Covid years so I didn’t miss out on racing but I was awake for the whole thing. It was a bit surreal. I was watching.

“They had to burn off a bit of my heart. At the time it was very scary but I had the right people around me.

“When they rang me they were pretty worried and as soon as they told me I wasn’t allowed to exercise at all.

“All I was allowed to do was go for walks, so I said to myself I’m going to go for walks every day. I had a lot of my friends on PS4 because it was the Covid times. So we’d wake up, get on Call of Duty.

“I remember when I got told I was like: ‘Is this my running career done?’ I almost had in the back of my head: ‘Is this the reason I’m good at running, because I’ve got this freaky heart?’

“I was almost worried when I got back I wouldn’t be the same.”

Pattison won bronze at last year’s Commonwealth Games but was not expected to challenge for the podium at the National Athletics Centre.

“I’ve never been the stand-out guy,” said the Loughborough Business Analytics graduate, who ran one minute 44.83 seconds.

“I’ve always been the guy on the team that’s been in the second or third place. I don’t win a lot of the domestic races but when it matters, I’m there.

“I’ve never not made a final in my life. I’ve got a Commonwealth medal and a world medal. If you’d told 10-year-old Ben he retired with a 1.44 personal best, a Commonwealth and world medal he’d have gone: ‘Who’s this looney?'”

Dina Asher-Smith was missing from the women’s 4x100m relay as Asha Philip, Imani-Lara Lansiquot, Bianca Williams and Daryll Neita claimed bronze.

Asher-Smith, who came seventh in the 200m final on Friday, revealed she had been dealing with a neural problem following the 100m semi last week.

The 27-year-old was unable to feel her legs in the closing stage of her race and will now leave the Championships without a medal.

The quartet still produced a season’s best of 41.97s to finish third as the USA and Jamaica claimed gold and silver.

Williams said: “We found out this morning (about Asher-Smith’s absence) but we’ve all done changes together. We all work well together. If Dina was here, great. She’s not here and we still got a medal.”

Neita added: “I’m really feeling this as a major stepping stone towards Paris and the Olympics. But in terms of the relay, it’s just another amazing medal to add to my collection.”

Jeremiah Azu, Zharnel Hughes, Adam Gemili and Eugene Amo-Dadzie finished fourth in the men’s 4x100m relay behind the USA, Italy and Jamaica.

The men of Lewis Davey, Charlie Dobson, Rio Mitcham and Alex Haydock-Wilson reached their 4x400m relay final.

Laviai Nielsen, Amber Anning, Nicole Yeargin and Yemi Mary John also reached their 4x400m relay final in three minutes 23.33s.

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    Alfred, who has a personal best of 6.94s, was always expected to continue her rich vein of form with a podium finish, but her gold medal prospects improved even more when her main rival Aleia Hobbs of the United States pulled out of the final with an injury.

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    "It feels good, I don't know how they are behaving right now, but I am sure they are happy. I have been working hard for such a long time to come out here and give my country their first ever gold medal and I am so happy, overwhelmed and ecstatic right now," Alfred said shortly after the race.

    St Lucia’s Minister of Sport Kenson Casimir congratulated Alfred on the feat which has given the Eastern Caribbean Island much to celebrate.

    “St Lucia's first ever global medallist in any sporting event and I think what makes it even more special is the fact that it is a gold medal at the World Indoor Championships. Of course, we are so proud, our entire nation is so proud. Of course, when you've won a medal, they say St Lucia wins it, so I can see every single individual really, really enjoying what we just witnessed today,” Casimir told SportsMax.TV.

    “Of course, I want to say congratulations to her family, Julian is somebody from humble, humble, humble beginnings from Castries, St Lucia, and she's doing so well, and we just look forward to even bigger and better things later on this year at the Olympic Games,” he added.

    On that note, Casimir declared his government’s intentions to continue throwing the necessary support behind Alfred as she continues to progress in her budding career.

    “We certainly believe that there's more to come from Julien. She is young. She has worked really hard her entire life from coming from the Leon Hess comprehensive secondary school and going over to high school in Jamaica and then later on to Texas.

    “She has really worked extremely hard and so as a government, we continue to put our resources behind her as she has transitioned so effectively into being a professional. And of course, with Coach Flo behind her from the University of Texas, we only expect bigger and better things from Julien Alfred,” he shared.

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    McDonald's bronze is Jamaica's third at the Championships, as Ackeem Blake and Carey McLeod, also won bronze in the men's 60m and long jump respectively.

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    Another Jamaican, Tajay Gayle was sixth at 7.89m, while LaQuan Nairn of the Bahamas was 15th at 7.59m.

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