Heart op put Kenny on road to stardom
INTERNATIONAL runner Kenny Wilson used to finish last in his school sports races until doctors found out why – he had a hole in his heart.
Open heart surgery at the age of five fixed the problem and nearly 25 years later, Kenny could not be fitter and has established himself as one of Scotland’s best road athletes.
Last weekend he raced for his country for the third time, smashing his personal best in the Commonwealth half marathon championships in Cardiff.
Yet it could have all been very different for the Craigellachie-based Tamdhu distillery warehouse operator had a serious heart defect not been picked up by doctors back in 1995.
“I had a chest infection that wouldn’t clear and the doctors thought it was a heart murmur to begin with,” Kenny recalled. “Looking into it more they found there was a hole.
“I think it was the sound of the heartbeat. You had the normal heartbeat and the sound of the blood getting pumped to the wrong bit so it was off of that they figured it out.”
The news was a terrible shock to Kenny’s parents Jane and Allan, and they took their son to Edinburgh sick children’s hospital for a major operation that was to change his life.
“I obviously don’t remember but they cut me open, moved the ribs about to get to the heart, patch it up and put me back together again. I had the op on a Saturday and I was out by the Tuesday, then back to school two weeks later.
“Straight away I was back into playing the kids games and playing football and I think everyone was scared to hit me with the ball in case something happened to me. Before the operation there’s videos of me pretty much finishing last in every sports day race. It’s changed a bit since then.
After two years of check-ups, young Kenny was given the all-clear to live a completely normal life.
Attending Knockando primary school, his talent for running was picked up by PE teacher Marjory Swinton, who coached him in his earlier years of athletics.
He joined Moray Road Runners, where current coaches Carol and George Sim took him under their wing and developed his running ability, soon attracting the interest of Scotland athletics selectors.
His past heart issues remained a secret until recently when the British Heart Foundation published his story on their Facebook page.
“I saw a few comments and it was good knowing other people with the same condition or similar things can see you can make a full recovery and lead a normal life and be healthy.
“If any young kids can see my story and see my progression and if that motivates them, that’s even better for me.”