Lee Mears: Bath Rugby retirement due to heart condition 'came out of the blue'
Lee Mears is just about getting used to the fact he will never again be able to pull on Bath Rugby’s famous blue, black and white shirt.
The England international hooker spent 16 years at The Rec, but was forced into retirement this week because of a heart condition, having been told that his long-term health was at risk if he continued playing.
The 33-year-old first learnt he would have to give up the game he loves on January 30. After the initial shock of the assessment, Mears knew he had to call it a day with a new-born baby and wife Danielle to care for.
“It’s been a rollercoaster ride the past few weeks, but I’m coming to terms with it now,” said Mears, a 42-cap England international and stalwart of two World Cups.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
“It was totally out of the blue and that was the surreal bit, being told that it’s no more.
“But when I was sat down and told I was putting my life at risk, with a new baby just been born, things were put into perspective.
“I always knew I was going to have to finish at some point and I was hoping it was going to be in a couple of years, but in some ways, this gives a little bit of closure.
“I always look at the positives and can’t try to struggle on, battle with an injury or regain the form of yesteryear.
“Going out on your own terms is the dream – the sort of Danny Grewcock finish – but again you can get caught up in the ‘what ifs’ and ‘maybes’, and I think I’ve achieved enough.”
Mears, a tourist to South Africa with the British & Irish Lions in 2009, was subject to vigorous testing before the agonising extent of his diagnosis was revealed.
And with the case of footballer Fabrice Muamba – who collapsed on the pitch due to a cardiac failure last year – still raw, Mears knows he had no alternative but to hang up his boots.
“I had a routine screening for these kinds of anomalies and it was picked up in an ECG,” said Mears.
“An ECG doesn’t tell you exactly what it is, it just tells you your heart is beating abnormally, so then it was a case of having an echo test, which they had on site.
“That was okay and I wasn’t deemed at risk, I just needed to have things looked at and went for tests in London.
“That involved a 24-hour echo test, exercise tests and an MRI. Month on month I was having test after test and eventually we got the information.
“The way I took it was ‘You’re joking? Oh, you’re not joking. Oh my goodness.’.
“At that point, you just sit there and think what is going to happen?
“It was a bit surreal, but then you think thank God I’ve had some good experiences and I’m not at the beginning of my career.
“I do get worried when mentioned in the same bracket as Fabrice Muamba, as I don’t know how clinically similar I am. I’m a lot luckier, but you can see that he has made a miraculous recovery and that is one thing – as an athlete, you bounce back pretty quickly.
“You never know when your retirement will be and you always say ‘well as long as you leave with your health’.
“Hopefully I’ve caught it at the right time and I’ll be fine.”