Airline collapse shatters athletic dream

AN athlete heading off to Canada to compete in one of the world's toughest races has fallen at the first hurdle - after the airline he was going to fly with plunged into administration.

Laurence Cawley

AN athlete heading off to Canada to compete in one of the world's toughest races has fallen at the first hurdle - after the airline he was going to fly with plunged into administration.

Pc Simon Bourne, of Bury St Edmunds, has spent months in training for this weekend's Canada Ultraman - a gruelling three-day competition in which contestants run, cycle and swim.

He arrived at Gatwick yesterday morning bound for Vancouver.


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The first sign that there was a problem was when he and other passengers were told their flight was delayed because of “technical problems”.

It was only at 7.30pm that same evening that Pc Bourne and his fellow travellers learned their carrier - Zoom - had gone into administration and their flight was not merely delayed but cancelled.

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His dreams of taking part in the event - and of raising hundreds of pounds for Cancer Research in memory of his grandfather Stan Matthews - have been left in tatters.

Pc Bourne voiced frustration not only for himself but also for his 300 fellow passengers, some of whom were elderly or families with young babies.

“There was a large police presence when we were told that all Zoom staff had gone home and another company had to sort our luggage out for us, for which we were very grateful.

“The upshot of this was that I was left with no alternative flights that would have got us in to Penticton where the event is being held.

“I am now back home in Bury and pretty down hearted after all the training, preparation, media coverage and fund-raising that has all been part of this project.

“I will soon be in negotiation with the race director for a place at Ultraman 2009. In the meantime I will be looking at my options. I had been offered a place in the World Championships next year if I performed well in Canada, so that opportunity will now be lost and I need to re-focus and look at formulating a plan for 2009.

“I would like to thank everyone who has put in such hard work and so much time to help raise the profile of my project - I will not give up and will be back in training to compete next year.”

In a statement, Hugh and John Boyle, the founders of Zoom, said: “We deeply regret the fact that we have been forced to suspend all Zoom operations. It is a tragic day for our passengers and more than 600 staff.

“We are desperately sorry for the inconvenience and disappointment that this will cause passengers and those who have booked flights.”

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