Commonwealth Games 2022: Stewart McSweyn in doubt due to Covid booster complications

Australian athletics star Stewart McSweyn’s Commonwealth Games prospects are in jeopardy as he continues to battle ongoing effects from a Covid booster shot.

A Covid vaccination booster in February has been identified as the cause of middle-distance star Stewart McSweyn‘s continued health battles.

McSweyn’s immediate future hangs in the balance with serious concerns about his Commonwealth Games preparation after his second consecutive below-par performance.

The Tokyo 1500m Olympic finalist struggled home in 14th place at Saturday‘s Birmingham Grand Prix meet.

He had also raced below-par in his first international race of the year, finishing 11th at last week’s Doha Diamond League.

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McSweyn contracted COVID in January and then had a booster shot in February in order to travel to the world indoor championships in Belgrade, Serbia.

However, his plans were thrown into disarray when he dramatically pulled out of a 5000m race at Box Hill in early March after struggling to breathe.

The Australian 1500m record holder was then diagnosed with periocarditus which is inflammation around the heart and is a known side-effect of the Covid booster.

Stewart McSweyn in the final of the 1500m at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Photo: Getty Images)
Stewart McSweyn in the final of the 1500m at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Photo: Getty Images)

Athletics Australia Lead Coach Nic Bideau said McSweyn had been able to train strongly but his body wasn‘t responding when placed under race pressure.

“It‘s concerning and the doctor is telling us that it’s definitely linked to the vaccination in February,” Bideau said.

“He says there are quite a few athletes suffering from the same thing and there‘s no point racing until he’s right. When that is, we’re not sure now.”

While McSweyn struggled, his teammate and reigning national champion Oliver Hoare ran impressively, finishing third in 3min35.76sec.

A “tired” Peter Bol couldn‘t repeat his impressive showing in Doha a week earlier where he’d finished second, tiring over the final stages in Birmingham to finish ninth.

Australia’s Peter Bol (left), Canada's Marco Arop (middle) and Kenya's Noah Kibet (right) compete during the men's 800m event at the IAAF Diamond League athletics Doha meeting earlier this month. Photo: AFP
Australia’s Peter Bol (left), Canada's Marco Arop (middle) and Kenya's Noah Kibet (right) compete during the men's 800m event at the IAAF Diamond League athletics Doha meeting earlier this month. Photo: AFP

Jessica Hull was the best of the Aussie contingent on the track where they will race for medals in August, finishing second in the 1500m behind British star Laura Muir.

Muir took over when the pacemaker dropped off over the final lap but Hull (4min03.42sec) stuck with the Olympic silver medallist until the final stages to further enhance her growing reputation on the world stage.

“Racing Laura in front of a British crowd was the perfect insight into the atmosphere we will have at the Commonwealth Games,” Hull said. ”The crowd were so loud, Birmingham is going to put ona show in August when we come back here.”

Originally published as Commonwealth Games 2022: Stewart McSweyn in doubt due to Covid booster complications