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

Penelope the cat showed up safe and sound at her owner’s porch after an unusual trip through the news cycle in recent weeks. (Photo courtesy of Reuniting Owners with Animals Missing)
Penelope, cat and friend of the Victoria HarbourCats, returns home safe

The cat had an after an unusual trip through the news cycle in recent weeks

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 pushes B.C. government 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

Saanich police detectives are investigating a reported sexual assault that occurred near Glanford Park on the evening of Dec. 29, 2020 and have shared an artist’s rendering of the individual. (Image via Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers)
Saanich police release sketch of suspect sought in December sexual assault

Anyone with information asked to contact detectives, Crime Stoppers

The Compost Education Centre is hosting its annual spring plant sale on May 8 at 1216 North Park St. Physical distancing protocols will be in effect during the sale, which runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (Black Press Media file photo)
This weekend: Tenth annual spring plant sale hosted by Victoria Compost Education Centre

The non-profit event Saturday, May 8 will feature numerous varieties of plants, live music

Al Kowalko shows off the province’s first electric school bus, running kids to three elementary and two secondary schools on the West Shore. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
West Shore proud owners of B.C.’s first electric school bus

No emissions, no fuel costs and less maintenance will offset the $750K upfront expense

(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

OPINION SIG
SOOKE HISTORY – A woman in business: Caroline Throup

Elida Peers | Contributed Who was it that said “Women in Business”… Continue reading

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

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