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Norway mourns champion swimmer dead at 26

posted 1 May 2012, 09:55 by Mpelembe Admin   [ updated 1 May 2012, 09:56 ]

World champion swimmer Alexander Dale Oen of Norway dies of suspected heart attack at 26.

NORWAY  (TV2) - 
Norwegian world champion swimmer Alexander Dale Oen has died of a suspected heart attack in Arizona at the age of 26.
The 2011 world 100 metres breaststroke champion and one of Norway's best hopes for a medal at this year's London Olympics was attending an altitude training camp in Flagstaff.

His team mates became worried when they noticed he had spent a long time in the shower on Monday (April 30) evening and Dale Oen did not react when they called out and knocked on the door. When they got into the bathroom, they found him lying half out of the bath tub.

The doctor to Norway's elite Olympians was quickly on the scene and an ambulance arrived shortly afterwards, but despite their best efforts to revive him Dale Oen was pronounced dead at 2100 local time.

Born in Oygarden in south-western Norway, Dale Oen's career was ground-breaking and his bronze medal at the 2006 short course championships was the first for a Norwegian man in a world event.

He also won his country's first Olympic swimming medal when he took silver in the 100m breaststroke in Beijing in 2008, but it was at the 2011 world championships that he became a real national hero to the Norwegian people.

As he prepared for the 100m breaststroke competition in Shanghai, Dale Oen's nordic homeland was rocked by the massacre of 77 people by right-winger Anders Behring Breivik.

The country was thrown into shock and Dale Oen struggled with his emotions in the aftermath of the attacks, touching the Norwegian flag on his swimming cap every time he entered the pool deck.

Three days later, he swam to victory in the 100m breaststroke final and dedicated his triumph to the Norwegian people.

Dale Oen, who was in Arizona preparing for the London Olympics, was active on social media site Twitter, and in his final message he told his followers he was looking forward to returning to his native country.

"2 days left of our camp up here in Flagstaff, then it's back to the most beautiful city in Norway - Bergen," he wrote.