Teenage Olympic hopeful's heart 'just stopped beating'

The parents of a 15-year old cycling star who died in his sleep after his heart suddenly stopped beating have vowed to back research into the mysterious condition that claimed his life.

Lewis Barry, 15, was found dead in his bed by dad Mark in July.

The youngster, who was a pupil at Garforth Community College, was tipped for cycling success and was expected to be a contender for a slot in the Great Britain Olympic cycling team.

Speaking after an inquest found Lewis died of "unascertained natural cause thought to be cardiac in nature', mum Carol said: "I feel that, as much as possible, we have got answers."

Dad Mark, a former Olympic cyclist, added: "We have tried to think how Lewis would want to be remembered.

"He was remarkable, and very keen on helping other young people."

Mr and Mrs Barry said they will now support research into sudden and unexpected heart-related deaths, as well as backing fundraising for the Dave Rayner Fund, set up in memory of another tragic cyclist, to help other hopefuls build careers in the sport.

The inquest at Leeds Coroner's Court heard that when Lewis was found by his father, he "looked as if he was still sleeping" and "there was no sign of distress".

The court was told that the youngster had a slightly enlarged heart and had been diagnosed a few months earlier with an irregular heartbeat, however neither condition had caused his death.

Consultant pathologist Dr Lisa Barker told the court: "He was a normal, healthy boy.

"The only findings are that his heart was on the large side for a boy of his age."

The court was told the size of his heart was due to the large amounts of exercise that he did, However, "there was no evidence of a disease of the heart" and there was "nothing structurally wrong" with it.

Dr Gordon Williams, who had diagnosed Lewis with an irregular heartbeat a few months earlier, said "a "degree of uncertainty" about the exact cause of his death remained, but it would "have to be cardiac and it would have to be electrical" in nature.

He said Lewis could have suffered from Long QT Syndrome - which affects the rhythm at which the heart muscle contracts - but he could only "speculate" on this and other possibilities.

Coroner David Hinchliff said: "(Lewis] was quite fit and well with no problems or symptoms. It looks like he just literally died in his sleep".

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