An Australian Paralympian sailor and her teammate were threatened and robbed at gunpoint in Rio de Janeiro where they were training for the 2016 Games. Liesl Tesch and her physiotherapist Sarah Ross were confronted by two men over the weekend who stole her bike. One of the men was reported to have been carrying a pistol. The six-time Paralympian wrote on Twitter: "I was robbed off my bike at gunpoint at the local bus stop. Stay safe in Rio."
Tesch and Ross were returning to their hotel at Flamengo beach after taking a bike ride. The athlete, who won a gold medal in the 2012 London Olympics, said the armed man pointed the gun at her and pushed her to the ground. She said she believed they were demanding money from her.
"I think he said 'dinero' (money). I speak some Spanish, so I lifted up my shirt and showed him I had no money," Tesch told the Australian broadcaster Channel Nine.
"And then he said something else, but I don't know what he said. He lifted the gun up towards me [at her chest] and then pushed me in the shoulder and I just fell down on the cobblestones."
With less than seven weeks for the 2016 Rio Olympics, the incident has raised fears over the security arrangements made in Rio for the athletes. Paralympic events are scheduled to take place between 7 and 18 September following the Olympics which open on 5 August.
"It was absolutely horrific; I can see it clear as day in my own head. We are both shaken, but physically we're both OK," Tesch added.
The Australian Paralympic Committee said Tesch and Ross reported the incident to the local tourist police who will investigate the case.
Australia's Paralympic team chef de mission Kate McLoughlin has advised athletes to be highly cautious while travelling to Rio for the Games, Reuters reported.
"We know there will be a hugely elevated level of security in place during the Paralympic Games, but for athletes and teams travelling there before the Games, there is a heightened need to be security conscious."
Security issues are one of the concerns coming out of Rio besides economic crunch. The Olympic organisers earlier announced their plan to double the number of security personnel for the Games compared to the London Olympics.