5 Jun 2013

NZ athlete in Tahiti hospital

6:23 pm on 5 June 2013

New Zealand athlete Lesley Cantwell is in a critical condition in a hospital in Tahiti.

Cantwell, from Te Anau, is part of the New Zealand team competing at the Oceania Area Track and Field Championships.

Radio New Zealand understands the 26-year-old suffered a brain hemorrhage and collapsed after winning the 5000m walk on Tuesday. She was immediately taken to a hospital in Papeete and is on life support.

Ms Cantwell's parents are heading to Papeete on Thursday. Her mother, Jude Cantwell, was the national 1500 metres champion in 1989, while her father Shaun Cantwell is the deputy principal at Fiordland College and a leading athletics coach.

In a show of support for their team-mate, the other 50 athletes in the New Zealand team have decided to continue in the championships and will wear armbands and have Lesley Cantwell's number written on their arms. The championships finish on Thursday.