Chinese coach Xu Guoyi, the trainer for a host of accomplished swimmers including world record-holder Ye Shiwen, underwent surgery last month for cancerous tumors in his brain.
Xu is 45 years old, and coaches some of China’s top athletes, including the 2012 Olympic 200 and 400 IM champ Ye, rising backstroke star Xu Jiayu and junior world record-setter Li Zhuhao.
Sports.sohu.com reports that Xu underwent surgery in late December after doctors detected malignant glioma in his brain. According to sohu.com, Xu’s glioma was considered a grade IV, which is the most serious case of the brain tumors.
The surgery took place on December 29th, according to sohu.com. Meanwhile sports.sina.com.cn reports that the surgery was a success, and that doctors downgraded the diagnosis to Grade III, which is less severe.
Both sources report that Xu kept the surgery quiet so as not to disturb his swimmers during training.
Sina.com reports, though, that the lengthy recovery period required in these sorts of cases means Xu may be unable to return to coaching for some time. That would require his athletes to undergo a coaching shakeup of some sort, with the 2016 Rio Olympic Games now just seven months away.
Sohu.com includes a brief profile of Xu, noting that he is well-loved by his athletes, and puts a premium on educating his swimmers as people, not just developing them as athletes.