Skřípov - There could not have been a more dramatic finale to this year´s World Orienteering Championship (WOC), hosted by the Czech Republic, during the past ten days in the forests near the Moravian city of Olomouc.
One of the sport´s biggest stars, Thierry Gueorgiou of France, who won the gold medal last Thursday in the middle distance event, was well on his way to yet another triumph in Sunday´s men´s relay event, when he ran into unexpected trouble less than a mile from the finish line.
The fans watched in disbelief as the 29-year-old Frenchman stopped for a moment during an uphill climb, then walked off the course of the race only to re-emerge later at the end of the race after everybody else had finished.
It quickly transpired he had been stung by a bee which flew straight into his open mouth in that fateful moment with roughly ten minutes left into the race.
Setting off an allergic reaction, the insect deprived him of what would have been his seventh world championship gold medal and effectively granted a surprising victory in the men´s relay event to the French archrivals - the United Kingdom.
"The bee had stung him on the tongue, it swelled and he could hardly breathe," physician Roman Jelínek told Aktuálně.cz. The organizers quickly had a helicopter come and take the unlucky athlete to the hospital in nearby Olomouc.
"He may have to spend the night in the hospital, but I think it is not serious. He should be fine," said Jelínek. It was later confirmed that the diagnosis was correct.
Ironically, it was at the WOC in Western Bohemia´s popular spa resort of Mariánské Lázně in 1991 where Thierry Gueorgiou got his first major break, winning the spectator race in his age category.
Ever since then, it is said, he had his mind set on becoming the world champion. And he has achieved his goal no less than six times. However, in the forests near Olomouc on Sunday, it was clearly not meant to be(e), for the biology student from St. Etienne.