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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

New electric buses are coming to school districts. (Submitted photo)
New electric school buses will drive North Island forward

Travel on electric school buses is smoother, quieter, and healthier than traditional diesel buses

Destroyed window at Ministry of Social Development offices in Campbell River. Photo supplied by Campbell River RCMP
Police investigating arson in downtown Campbell River

Fire set at BC Employment and Assistance Office

May 3-9 was Mental Health Week, and the Campbell River RCMP is encouraging people, especially men, to seek emotional help if it’s needed. Black Press file photo
Campbell River RCMP encouraging men to seek emotional help if needed

‘Taking care of our Mental Health is not simply about accessing counselling,’ says Const. Maury Tyre

Campbell River’s waste collection schedule will be changing after Victoria Day. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror.
Campbell River Garbage pickup schedule changing after May Long Weekend

Pickup day will change after every statutory holiday

A B.C. Centre for Disease Control map showing new COVID-19 cases by local health area for the week of April 25-May 1. (BCCDC image)
Vancouver Island’s COVID-19 case counts continue to trend down

Fewer than 200 active cases on the Island, down from highs of 500-plus earlier this spring

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to start releasing neighbourhood-specific COVID numbers after data leak

Documents obtained by the Vancouver Sun show cases broken down by neighbourhoods

Ladysmith RCMP safely escorted the black bear to the woods near Ladysmith Cemetary. (Town of Ladysmith/Facebook photo)
Black bear tranquillized, relocated after wandering around residential Ladysmith

A juvenile black bear was spotted near 2nd Avenue earlier Friday morning

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix update B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count creeps up, seven more deaths

445 people in hospital, 157 in intensive care

Summerland’s positive test rate is much higher than surrounding local health areas, according to internal BC CDC documents. (BC CDC)
Summerland 3rd behind Surrey, Abbotsford in daily per capita COVID-19 cases

Interior Health is rolling out additional vaccine availability to the community

Amazon is pausing its Prime Day marketing event in Canada this year amid ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks at its facilities in Ontario. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Amazon Prime Day halted in Canada due to COVID-19 outbreaks in warehouses

The event was postponed to protect the health and safety of employees and customers, the company says

Ally Thomas, 12, seen in an undated family handout photo, died on April 14 from a suspected overdose. Her family says they are frustrated more public supports weren't available when they tried to get her help. THE CANADIAN PRESS
Minister says suspected overdose death of 12-year-old pushing B.C. to ‘do better’

Minister Sheila Malcolmson of Mental Health and Addictions says the government is working ‘as hard as we can’ to build a system of care for youths

At this Highway 3 check point, police officers will be asking for identification from drivers, documentation regarding the driver’s name and address, and the purpose for the driver’s travel. (RCMP)
No fines handed out at 1st COVID-19 roadblock as checks move across B.C.

Cpl. Chris Manseau says a total of 127 vehicles were stopped at a roadblock in the Manning Park area

A spectator looks on as the Olympic Caldron is relit in downtown Vancouver, Wednesday, February 12, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Small majority of B.C. residents in favour of a Vancouver 2030 Olympic bid: survey

A new survey shows a split over the possibility of public money being spent to organize and host the winter games

Most Read