Sheffield & South Yorkshire

TV presenter Charlie Webster in coma with malaria in Rio

Charlie Webster on her Ride to Rio Image copyright PA
Image caption Charlie Webster was taken ill after cycling 3,000 miles to Rio

A television sports presenter is in a coma with malaria in a Rio hospital following a 3,000-mile charity cycle ride.

Charlie Webster, 33, who has worked for Sky and ITV, became unwell after watching the Olympic opening ceremony.

Sky said Ms Webster's agent had confirmed that she was on life support with a rare strain of the disease.

Ms Webster, from Sheffield, had appeared to be in good health when she arrived in Brazil on 4 August.

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The former Sky Sports News presenter was said to have dehydrated after the gruelling six-week Ride to Rio challenge.

She was admitted to hospital the day after the Olympics opening ceremony after her condition deteriorated.

Having posted many photos and updates on social media throughout the cycle ride, she wrote on Twitter on 9 August: "I'm getting there... awful few days with serious infection #Rio."

Image copyright SKY NEWS

A statement on her Twitter feed two days later said her condition had "since been diagnosed as a severe complication caused by a bacterial infection".

It said: "Charlie has updated you all throughout her cycle and we know her silence was causing concern.

"Charlie is receiving great care and we will update when we can."

Ms Webster's mother, brother and manager are understood to have flown from the UK to be with her.

Advice to the medical team caring for her has been provided by the London School of Tropical Medicine.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: "We are providing support to a British woman who is in hospital in Rio."

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Media captionMs Webster spoke to the BBC after arriving in Rio before she became ill

Ms Webster made headlines in 2014 when she resigned as a patron of Sheffield United after the club allowed its former player Ched Evans to train after his release from prison, where he had served two-and-a-half years for rape.

Ms Webster told BBC's Newsnight the club had not acknowledged the "extremity of his crime".

A number of her former colleagues have expressed their concern for her health, including Sky Sports presenter Hayley McQueen.

She said on Twitter: "Just reading the worst news, if anyone's going to fight their way back to health it is @CharlieCW. Sending prayers."

Image copyright Jim White

Comments have also been made by fellow Sky presenters Rachel Wyse and Jim White.

The Ride to Rio left the UK on 27 June, with Ms Webster and her colleagues cycling 90 miles a day with only one rest day each week before arriving at the Maracana stadium on 4 August.

It marked the 10th anniversary of a cycle ride undertaken by charity fundraiser Jane Tomlinson before her death.

Mrs Tomlinson was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2000 and died in 2007 after raising almost £2m for charity.

In a statement the appeal said it had been very saddened to hear how unwell Ms Webster was.

"She has constantly been in our thoughts since the Ride to Rio challenge finished and we are so glad to hear that both she and her family have been able to receive the right support," it continued.

"Charlie has been a key member of our team over the past few months and we will continue to send our thoughts and love to Charlie as she hopefully makes a speedy recovery."

Image copyright Ride to Rio
Image caption The ride finished in time for the Olympic opening ceremony

Charlie Webster

  • Born in Sheffield in 1982 and studied language and linguistics at Newcastle University
  • Worked as a personal trainer, fitness instructor, model and actress
  • Began her sports broadcasting career working for Real Madrid International TV
  • Became the first live female football presenter in Asia for ESPN and Star Sports in 2006
  • Has since presented for the BBC, ITV, Sky Sports and Channel 4
  • Has campaigned for women's rights specifically in relation to sexual and domestic abuse; in 2014 she revealed she had been abused as a teenager
  • Has undertaken a number of challenges for charity including the London Marathon

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