World record-holding athlete killed by Covid despite being ‘incredibly fit’

A world record-holding former athlete who was "incredibly fit" has died of coronavirus at just 62.

Former miner Greg Hand would train six times a week and had a resting heart rate in the 40s – the same as an elite sportsman.

But just before Christmas the Dresden man, his wife Kerry and son Greg Jr were all struck down with Covid-19, StokeonTrentLive reports.

While Kerry and her son gradually improved, Greg failed to recover and was admitted to the Royal Stoke University Hospital on January 4.

In the early hours of Tuesday, his blood pressure suddenly dropped and his heart stopped.

Now his shattered family are urging others to take the pandemic seriously after losing a "brilliant grandad, dad and husband".

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Greg Jr, 40, said he thought his dad was just "a couple of days behind us" after he and his mum recovered from Covid-19.

"In the early hours, mum contacted 111 and the paramedics were sent to take him to hospital as his oxygen levels were really low," he said.

"He was put on an ICU bed as they thought he had a fighting chance of pulling through. We were calling on Zoom and he seemed to be getting better and was responding to treatment. The care he received was brilliant.

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"The last time we spoke to him was on the evening of January 11 and he was really positive. It was the best we'd seen him. He was talking about what car he was going to buy when he got out.

"He was laughing and joking and even took his mask off."

But just a few hours later Greg deteriorated and was put in an induced coma with a suspected blood clot.

"We asked if we could go and be with him. We went to the hospital and they were still trying to resuscitate him," Greg Jr.

"At 7:02am he died with mum by his side. It's just so alarming and terrifying how quickly it happened."

Despite knowing how serious coronavirus can be, Greg Jr was confident his dad's fitness would stand him in good stead.

He'd beaten thousands around the world to secure the 100m static rowing record for over-60s in 2018. He went on to secure more world records and was eyeing up more when he fell ill.

Greg Jr added: "My dad was massively into keeping fit. He was smashing records all over the place and he was planning to go for more.

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"He didn't smoke or drink much. That's why his death has come as such a big shock. With a heart that strong, we thought he'd pull through. We thought if there was anyone who could fight it, he could.

"This was an incredibly fit man who has lost his life to Covid – the message is to take it seriously.

"I'm only 40 and I was in bed for 10 days with it. Every time I was feeling a bit better and tried to get up I'd be hit with exhaustion, it was wave after wave.

"We were all really poorly but it just crippled Dad. No one is safe, it's very real."

He went on: "We don't really know how we all got Covid. We were doing all the right things. I worried if I brought it into the house. I'm beating myself up about it."

During the pandemic, talented musician Greg Sr would also keep people entertained by playing his guitar on the Potteries Lockdown Facebook group.

Greg Jr said: "He was such a popular guy. He wasn't just my dad, he was my best friend."

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