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Competitive Eater Endures Illness

By: Yiran Liu

James Webb is a competitive eater from Australia. He quit his job to participate in food-eating competitions. He proved to be fit for this event because, in his first competition, he managed to eat 38 pancakes in one hour and broke the Australian record. He also ate 17 sausage sizzle sandwiches in three minutes, breaking an additional record.

Recently, he placed third in New York’s famous Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest after eating 47 hotdogs in 10 minutes. Webb was able to play semi-professional soccer before he became ill and was put in hospital for a year and a half. When he was 27, he was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome, an autoimmune disorder where the body's immune system attacks its nerves. This is a rare disease that can lead to paralysis, making it impossible to move one's body.

Because of this sickness, Webb could not move and was required to use a ventilator in order to breathe. The doctors informed him he would never walk again. “I went to sleep one night as a professional soccer player and woke up paralyzed,” Webb said. Afterward, he developed cataracts and became blind. Because of treatment and eye surgery, he slowly regained his sight and retaught himself how to walk and breathe.

Because of these changes, Webb is now healthy and goes to the gym. Despite his misfortunes before, he now is very careful and exercises daily to be a fit athlete.

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