by MTHULISI SIBANDA
JOHANNESBURG – HALF-a-year into a gruesome attack by muggers, athletics legend, Nick Bester, reveals how the assault has consigned him to irreversible disability.
Bester, the Comrades Marathon icon and prominent coach, was left for dead when his assailants pounced on him on August 30 last year while he was training in the Magalies mountains, near his house.
In an exclusive and impassioned interview with CAJ News Africa, the recuperating veteran athlete (60) disclosed how the ruthless assault had robbed him of some of his vital senses.
“I still can’t taste or smell anything,” the veteran told CAJ News Africa.
This indicates the viciousness of the robbery that left him in the intensive care unit (ICU) at a Pretoria hospital facility where he nursed broken ribs, a wrecked cheekbone and severe tissue damage.
Bester disclosed the loss of taste and smell were anomalies he might live with for the rest of his life.
“No medicine or operation can do it,” the legend said when asked if the frailties could be corrected medically.
The malfunction is a result of the damage to his olfactory nerves from attack.
The olfactory nerve is a pure sensory nerve that functions for the sense of smell.
According to Bester, the nerve grows 1mm per year.
Hence, he expects the recovery of the nerve “after a year or two.”
The erstwhile multi-discipline athlete said he had a “50 percent chance” of recovery in that regard.
He is nonetheless not letting his travails dampen his passion for athletics.
Bester revealed physically, he is very fit and training twice a day.
He is a trainer and national manager at the famed Nedbank Running Club.
Among his prodigies is Irvette Van Zyl, the long distance champion who claimed yet another victory at the resumption of athletics competitions this past weekend.
Last year’s attack is reminiscent of the assault the former Ironman athlete suffered in 2010.
Then, he was assaulted by three men while training in Pretoria.
He was left nursing a broken rib and lost his bicycle.
Bester’s name is engrained in global history as the winner of the Comrades Marathon in 1991 at a time of 5 hours, 40 minutes and 53 seconds as well as winning gold nine times in 15 finishes.
These finishes include three second-place berths.
Ten people have been arrested in connection with the assault against Bester.
They face murder and attempted murder charges.
– CAJ News