During the semifinal of the men’s 100 backstroke, many fans were surprised when French swimmer Yoann Ndoye-Brouard failed to flip-turn at the 50 meter mark, instead hitting his head on the wall.
Ndoye-Brouard has revealed that the collision was due to a degenerative eye problem. As a result of the problem, he was unable to see the flags going into the wall. According to Ndoye-Brouard, the condition affects his cornea, and he will be undergoing surgery for it in September.
Ndoye-Brouard specifically says that he is suffering from Keratoconus, which is also referred to as a bulging of the cornea. According to the Mayo Clinic, this disease can result in pain, blurred vision, and an extreme sensitivity to light, further verifying Ndoye-Brouard’s statement regarding the projectors in the arena.
The usual treatment for the condition is a corneal transplant, which according to a UK-based eye surgery center Optimax requires a week for recovery, but possibly longer for those participating in sports.
Nyode-Brouard, at only 20-years-old, is the reigning European Championships bronze medalist in the 100 backstroke. The Tokyo Olympics are his first Olympic Games. In prelims of the 100 backstroke, Nyode-Brouard swam a time of 53.13 to qualify 6th overall before his disqualification in the semifinal. In addition to the 100 backstroke, Nyode-Brouard also contested the 200 backstroke, where he finished 9th overall in a time of 1:56.93. He was not originally qualified for the semifinal of the 200 backstroke, but a last-minute scratch by China’s Xu Jiayu moved him up from a reserve spot. Barring any scratches from the final, Nydoe-Brouard is done competing in individual events, and will most likely make his final appearance of the meet on France’s 400 medley relay.