By: Ben Clerkin

Original Source:



To stay in peak physical condition and win an Olympic medal, Katharine Merry refused to let a drop of alcohol pass her lips.




So when the 400 metre runner agreed to drink two bottles of wine every three days in an experiment on the dangers of binge-drinking, the results were shocking.



The athlete, formerly one of the fastest women in the world, grew two inches fatter, suffered skin problems, felt weak, lethargic and suffered a lack of appetite.



And she even needed a five-day course of antibiotics at one point, when her system began to collapse under the strain of the endless alcohol, and the trial had to be suspended until she recovered enough to see it through.



“That much alcohol in just one sitting tipped my body over the edge and set a pattern for the two weeks,” said Miss Merry, 33, who took part in the trial for a television documentary to be screened this week.



“I had to go onto antibiotics because it was a massive shock to the system. It was a horrendous experience. It just knocked me for six.



“Hopefully the results of the experiment will be a lesson and a wake-up call to girls and young women who drink too much.”



Miss Merry, who won a bronze at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, was given the all-clear by her GP before she began the fortnight’s binge-drinking and underwent a series of fitness tests to compare her state at the end.



She usually stocks her fridge with healthy food like fruit, chicken, vegetables and energy drinks.

But she had to drink 60 units of alcohol for the programme over the fortnight – a common total among binge-drinking women.



That amount of wine contains 4,500 calories and is equivalent to 600ml of pure alcohol.



The runner also had to put her usual fitness regime on hold and restrict her exercise to just 5,000 steps a day.



She was given the all-clear by her GP before she began the fortnight’s binge-drinking and underwent a series of fitness tests to compare her state at the end.



On day one, she drank her prescribed two bottles of wine but suffered a restless night, and two days later she was still complaining of muscle pain, lethargy and lack of appetite.



But just four days into her challenge, she became ill with flu-like symptoms and had to be prescribed penicillin.



After she recovered to continue, she experienced her first crippling hangover and complained of a stomach “like a washing machine”.



By the end of the fortnight, Merry noticed that she lacked patience, she was grumpy, her skin was bad and, worst of all, she was two inches fatter around her waist.



She said she could not understand why so many women drink large amounts at once and said she hoped she had set an example that others would heed.



“There is such serious issue with binge-drinking in this country, particularly young females,” she said.



“These girls will hopefully watch the programme and realise how much damage alcohol can do to them.”



Miss Merry, who lives in Bristol, retired from her sport in 2005 and was a British women’s 400m indoor record-holder.



When she was 14 she was the fastest girl in the world over 100m and by 2001 was ranked number one in the world rankings over 400m.



The athlete is now a mentor with UK Athletics for promising young athletes, encouraging them to lead healthy and disciplined lifestyles to reach their potential in the sport.

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