Nam Nguyen finishes sixth at nationals a week after contracting COVID-19

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  • Nam Nguyen
    Canadian figure skater

Barely a week before what might have been his last Canadian figure skating championships, and with a berth in the Beijing Olympics on the line, Nam Nguyen felt like he'd been by a train.

The 23-year-old from Toronto struggled to a sixth-place finish on Saturday in Ottawa, and revealed afterward that he'd contracted COVID-19 last week.

"It just hit me hard, like a train... it just felt like my whole body was just shaking from exhaustion, weakness, and I had chills all over, I was coughing a lot, running nose, congestion -- flu-like symptoms but times 10," Nguyen said. "It was definitely not a fun thing to deal with."

Nguyen won the world junior championships in 2014 and is a four-time national medallist at the senior level, capturing the Canadian title in 2019.

He was considered a favourite for one of Canada's two men's singles spots in Beijing.

Nguyen said he isolated for five days after his positive PCR test, and then was back on the ice on Tuesday after a couple of negative tests.

Nguyen had said a few weeks ago that he planned to retire following this season, but he is rethinking that decision.

"Obviously, I'm very sad with what I put out this week in programs, I wanted to finish on a really high note," he said. "I did say that this could be my last season, however I was in a different mindset back then. And a lot has happened from then until now. So, I'm not quite sure yet what my future holds. I really do not want to leave it on such a bad note like I've done this week."

Keegan Messing, who captured gold on Saturday, felt for his friend.

"Oh my god, he's one of the best friends I've ever had. He's really a brother to me... we're really, really close," Messing said. " And honestly, everything he's going through with the pandemic, because the pandemic hit him harder than most, my heart goes out to him. I just wish I could be there for him more than I have been."

The explosion of COVID-19 amid the easily transmissible Omicron variant has cast a pall on sports less than a month out from the Beijing Games.

Stephen Gogolev withdrew from the men's singles competition on Friday after testing positive for the coronavirus. The 17-year-old from Toronto was the national silver medallist in 2019. And pairs skaters Vanessa James and Eric Radford, who contracted COVID-19 around Christmas Day, withdrew from competition Saturday. They were fourth after the short program.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 8, 2022.

Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press

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