May 6, 2014
Four days in and half way up Africa’s tallest mountain her doctor told her: “No more.”
There was no argument. She turned around and, with Mount Kilimanjaro’s peak still days away, replied: “I know.”
She could no longer walk more than 20 steps without a rest and the decision was made to take her back.
Two days of hospital followed, during which a diagnosis of high altitude pulmonary oedema was diagnosed. In simpler terms, this is an accumulation of fluid on the lungs and can be fatal.
There was no question that abandoning the climb was the only choice to be made.
The climber in question was tennis legend and Laureus Academy Member Martina Navratilova who, along with a group of 27 climbers, attempted to ascend Kilimanjaro in December 2010 to raise funds for the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation.
But despite not reaching the top, she was certain her climb was not a failure.
By the time the rest of her group reached the summit, the multi-grand slam winner had helped raise thousands for the Foundation to help sport for development charities across the world improve the lives of young people in need.
The group included German Paralympian Michael Teuber and British badminton star Gail Emms. The Laureus team had to face blizzards and torrential rain, conditions out of keeping with those normally experienced during December, which made progress extremely difficult throughout the expedition.
It was a landmark event for the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation. Along with the incredible fundraising total, Martina’s bravery helped spread awareness of Laureus and sport for development across the world. Martina’s efforts were made all the more impressive considering she had received treatment for cancer just months earlier in early 2010.
Demonstrating the strength of character that not only made her such an unforgettable tennis champion but also such an inspiration in her fundraising efforts on the mountain, Martina said:
"The only failure is when you fail to try. I guess the other failure would not be giving your best effort. And I did both. So I don't feel it's a failure. I'm glad I tried. I'm glad I had the experience. I'm glad I survived it.”