The 38-year-old world record holder dealt with severe "intestinal problems" during his race on Friday

By Blake Bakkila
Updated August 19, 2016 04:35 PM
Bryn Lennon/Getty

For one Olympian, a medal was more important than a much-needed bathroom break.

French race walker Yohann Diniz was in the lead during the 50 km race in Rio on Friday when he collapsed around the 35 km mark, according to several reports. Diniz, who currently holds the world record for the event, eventually got up and finished the race walk in eighth place.

Cameras started to zoom in on the athlete’s legs early on in the race, however, and appeared to show the 38-year-old Olympian suffering from diarrhea mid-race. The announcers referred to it as “intestinal problems.”

But these “problems” didn’t stop Diniz from pushing forward, and he used a sponge to clean up as he continued the event. At one point he was forced to stop, but after encouragement from Canadian walker Evan Dunfee, he kept going. He stopped several times, but was not alone in the struggle to make it to the finish line.

During the race, 11 athletes were disqualified and 11 more withdrew from the race, according to NBC. In this particular event, competitors must keep at least one foot on the ground at all times. Officials judge the event throughout, and if there is a “serious enough violation, or multiple infractions, can result in disqualification,” according to the NBC report.

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This was a particularly disappointing result for Diniz, who set the world record in 2014 but was disqualified from competition in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics.

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And while Diniz’s intestinal issues made headlines, it is not uncommon for long-distance runners and walkers. Approximately 71 percent of long-distance runners experience abdominal cramping and diarrhea, which many call “runner’s trots,” according to Business Insider.

There doesn’t seem to be a specific scientific cause, but the Mayo Clinic has several theories, according to the BI report. These include anxiety, stress and even the speed of digestion.