09 April 2018

Michael Goolaerts, R.I.P.

Professional athletes are usually young and in prime physical condition.  That is why almost nobody expects one to die while competing or training.

So it was for Michael Goolaerts.  The 23-year-old Belgian collapsed from cardiac arrest during Paris-Roubaix, the one-day race often dubbed "L'enfer du nord" (the Hell of the North).  

It was originally reported that Goolaerts crashed.  There are no images available, but more recent reports say that he was found on the side of a cobblestoned road, where he is believed to have fallen.  No other riders were found at the scene.  

From there, he was airlifted to a hospital in the northern French city of Lille where he died, surrounded by his family.

Current reports say that he died of cardiac arrest, which could easily explain his fall and why medical assistance was to no avail.  Unlike a heart attack, during which the heart to continues to beat, in cardiac arrest, the heart immediately stops pumping blood to the brain, lungs and other organs.  A heart attack requires prompt attention, while a cardiac arrest victim needs almost immediate help if he or she is to survive, let alone recover.

Another way that cardiac arrest differs from a heart attack is that the former comes without warning.  That is why we occasionally hear of athletes suddenly collapsing and dying, as Goolaerts seems to have done, and why it is so surprising.

I give my condolences:  I can hardly imagine the shock and grief his family, friends and colleagues in the cycling community are feeling.


  1. Life is a mystery.Many can perform amazing feats but we are only ever one breath away from death...

  2. Coline--So true. And sometimes we just can't tell when that last breath will be drawn.