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France mourns death of ‘incredible’ triathlete Laurent Vidal

media Laurent Vidal competes during the men's short distance at the ITU Triathlon World Championships Series in Kitzbuehel, Tyrol Province, on 24 June 2012. AFP PHOTO/ERNST WUKITS

Laurent Vidal, a three-time French national champion triathlete, has died at the age of 31. Vidal suffered a heart attack at his home close to Montpellier, in southern France.

Vidal came fifth at the London 2012 Olympic Games, but retired from sport last year following a cardiopulmonary arrest during a swim. He recovered after being induced into a coma for 48 hours.

On his Twitter account, French president Francois Hollande called Vidal a “great champion”. The French president offered his condolences to his family and to French sport.

Vidal was engaged to be married to New Zealand triathlete Andrea Hewitt, who competed for her country at the Olympics in 2008 and 2012.

In a statement, the International Triathlon Union said it was “terribly saddened to hear of the passing of Laurent Vidal”, calling him an “incredible athlete” and an “unforgettable person”.

After his career was cut short by health problems, Vidal progressed into coaching, starting with his fiancée Hewitt and several top French athletes.

On his Twitter account, Vidal described himself as a “triathlete, Olympian and electronic music enthusiast”.

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