An athlete at the University of Georgia is expected to make a full recovery after being impaled by a javelin, the school said in a statement released Wednesday. Freshman sprinter Elija Godwin suffered a punctured and collapsed left lung after he ran backward into a javelin resting on the ground at an unusual angle, according to reports.
“It was truly an accident,” Georgia Athletic Director Greg McGarity said via Dawg Nation. “Nobody threw anything or anything like that.”
Godwin was taking part in backward running drills with teammates when he was pierced by the javelin. A university police report noted that he was wounded in “the middle of his back and just below the shoulder blade.” Part of the javelin remained in his body after the rest was “grinded off” by rescue personnel, the report stated.
Doctors removed the rest at Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center, where Godwin underwent surgery. He was in stable condition Wednesday, according to the university’s statement.
“We were at the hospital last night with his family,” Petros Kyprianou, men’s track coach for the Bulldogs, told the Athens Banner-Herald on Wednesday. “The mom is in very good spirits and is happy with the response and I’m really proud of our sports medicine crew.”
ESPN and Dawg Nation both reported that the rear part of the javelin pierced Godwin and caused the injury.
Kyprianou explained that a number of javelins “were just stacked there on the edge of the track and ready to be packed."
“The wind kicked one down I guess, and it went to like a 45 degree angle, and I guess Elija didn’t see it," he said.
Godwin, who will miss the rest of the track season, was reportedly coughing up blood and was given intravenous fluids. His mother told Atlanta’s 11 Alive that her son was already off oxygen and sitting up in bed, and that she was thankful for his relatively good condition.
A native of Covington, Ga., Godwin was part of the silver medal-winning 400-meter relay team for the United States at the 2018 under-20 world championships. He finished third in the 400 at the 2018 U.S. junior outdoor championships.
“We would like to express appreciation for all those who acted so quickly and efficiently in coming to the aid of Elija,” Ron Courson, the Bulldogs’ director of sports medicine, said in a statement.
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