Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Ex-Southampton footballer misses Ironman target

Francis Benali completing day 4 of IronFran challenge Image copyright Cancer Research UK
Image caption Francis Benali completed an "agonising" day 4 on Thursday night

An ex Premier League footballer has been thwarted in his bid to complete seven Ironman triathlons in seven days.

Francis Benali was unable to start the fifth day of his IronFran challenge for medical reasons, his team said.

The 50-year-old former Southampton FC captain hopes to resume the charity fundraising feat on Saturday.

Since Monday he has swum 10 miles (15km), cycled 448 miles (721km) and run four marathons, raising more than £800,000 for Cancer Research UK.

The ex-player finished his fourth marathon at 22:00 BST on Thursday after an "agonising" day, his team said.

A few hours earlier, he was pictured resting in a motorhome after "hitting a wall" and "needing treatment".

Image copyright Cancer Research UK
Image caption Benali underwent hospital tests and hopes to resume the charity fundraising feat on Saturday
Image copyright IronFran
Image caption The former footballer "hit a wall" on Thursday lunchtime

A spokesperson for IronFran said: "Medically we have been forced to make the regrettable decision to retire Franny from his IronFran challenge today.

"This decision... follows the recommendation of his sports therapist.

"This morning Franny will receive further medical assessment from doctors in the hope that he will be able to return to complete his epic challenge tomorrow."

The statement said the ex-player's family and support team were continuing to swim, cycle and run on his behalf.

In 2016, the former defender ran and cycled 1,000 miles (1,600 km) in two weeks, visiting every Premier League and Championship stadium.

He aims to complete his epic journey from Manchester to Southampton this weekend.

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