By Duncan Mackay in Seoul 

Gareth CowinJanuary 31 - An athlete from the Isle of Man competing in the Special Olympic World Winter Games in Pyeongchang has died, it has been announced.

Gareth Cowin, 25, died at Asan Hospital here in the South Korean capital yesterday.

The cause of death was refractory septic shock with multi-organ failure, Special Olympic organisers said.

He became ill shortly after his arrival last Saturday (January 26) and was admitted to a hospital in Pyeongchang before being transferred to Asan Hospital where he underwent treatment.

Cowin had been due to compete in floor hockey, where the Isle of Man are defending the title they won in Idaho four years ago when he had been part of the squad. 

He had also been part of the Isle of Man five-a-side football team that won the gold medal at the Summer Games in Athens two years ago.

"He received the best treatment possible while he was here in Korea," said his father, Kevin Cowin.

"We are truly grateful for all that the staff of the hospital did to treat Gareth."

Cowin's father has asked that the floor hockey team continue to compete in the Games and they drew their opening matches yesterday, 1-1 against Afghanistan and 2-2 with Japan.

Cowin's brother Liam posted on Facebook that he was his "best friend and his hero".

Cowin, winner of the Manx Radio Dream Catcher Heroes in the Community Award for Dedication to Sports last November, was one of 16 competitors representing the Isle of Man in the Games for athletes with intellectual disabilities, in which more than 3,000 athletes from 111 countries are taking part. 

"This is a great loss for the Special Olympics Movement and our thoughts and prayers are with his family and his teammates," a statement from officials. 

"The entire Special Olympics family is grieving the loss of Gareth and we dedicate these Games in his honour. 

"His delegation will continue with the World Games and have dedicated their competitions in his memory."

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