This week on The Amazing Race, father and son cancer survivors David and Connor O’Leary were forced to leave the competition in Vietnam due to injury.
Although David suffered a torn Achilles tendon during the second leg of The Amazing Race in Bora Bora, the 58-year old investment properties businessman continued to run the race with his son until he absolutely had to have surgery. It was an impressive showing for David and Connor who actually won a leg this season with Dave on crutches.
Unfortunately, when the race touched down in Vietnam this week, both David and Connor made the tough decision to leave The Amazing Race in order to capitalize on a seven day window for Dave to have surgery.
The next day, David and Connor gave The Deadbolt an exclusive update on the injury and how they felt about their time on The Amazing Race.
THE DEADBOLT: Dave, how’s your leg doing now?
DAVID O’LEARY: It’s coming. I came home and immediately had surgery. I went through physical therapy and I’m now recovering. Fortunately I went back on a bike and another sixty days I’ll be able to run again. I feel like I’m making progress and hopefully I’ll make a complete recovery.
THE DEADBOLT: Since you’re both cancer survivors, how important was it to push through the pain?
DAVID: It was important. We hated to leave. If we hadn’t heard from a doctor that there was a window in which I had to have surgery, we would’ve tried to stick it out a couple more legs. I mean, we knew we couldn’t win the race. We weren’t naive enough to believe that was a possibility. We were having so much fun that it was really a bummer to leave regardless of having an injury.
THE DEADBOLT: From the time the injury happened to the actual diagnosis, how did you both arrive at the decision to keep going? Did you go back and forth on it?
DAVID: We did. I got the first diagnosis in Bora Bora that the tendon was torn. It was really kind of gone. You could stick your finger up and go all the way to the ankle bone. At that point, I kind of thought we were done.
We went to Tahiti the next day and had a scan and they put me in the boot. Once they put me in the boot, I felt great. I thought, “Boy, I can keep going. If we can keep up on crutches, we ought to try and do the next leg.” So, we did.
We thought we’d quit after New Zealand because we kind of knew we couldn’t win. When we won that leg and the race kept going, we were like, “Hey, I guess we’re going on to Bali.”
THE DEADBOLT: Connor, what was your thought process after the injury occurred?
CONNOR O’LEARY: Honestly, I thought the plug was going to be pulled in Bora Bora after we saw the doctor and the extent of the injury. The one thing my mom said to me was to take care of my dad. So, I had to take care of him and do what I had to do.
I thought we were going to pull the plug but we got the boot on him and he kept chugging along. So, it was a fun four legs.
THE DEADBOLT: Did you guys think you’d be eliminated first, or did you know you’d probably have to make the decision yourselves?
CONNOR: You know, we wanted to go and win a few legs and see what we could do. I think it was our original intent to go until we were out. But once we got that news from the doctor, we realized it was serious and he had to get surgery. We didn’t want to make the injury worse than it was by prolonging the surgery.
DAVID: When we got the Express Pass, we felt that we had a real advantage to win one leg, which proved to be true. After that, it was kind of all bets were off.
THE DEADBOLT: Dave, how do you feel now knowing you were at the top of the pack for most of the race?
DAVID: I still feel terrible, believe me. I guess if you’re going to go out, you want to go out on top. But it felt so awful to have to leave. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done just because you have this experience with your son. Connor and I are best friends, we’ve done a lot together. But what are the odds you’re ever going to be able to do The Amazing Race? It was really a hard decision to leave.
THE DEADBOLT: Do you guys regret staying in the race as long as you did?
CONNOR: No, not at all. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. Unfortunately, it was cut a little short. We definitely don’t regret staying in as long as we did.
DAVID: We kind of regret not doing the leg in Vietnam after seeing it last night. We didn’t know how long it would be since you don’t know what’s coming. But the fact that it was a one day leg it looks like, we probably should have tried to do it. But hindsight is 20/20, especially when you don’t know what’s coming.
THE DEADBOLT: Since you both had such a one-of-a-kind experience with the injury, was it still great to run the race even though you had to leave?
CONNOR: Oh yeah, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. My dad got hurt, it was a bummer we had to leave, but it was one of the most fun things I’ve ever done in my life.
DAVID: I feel the same way. Certainly I didn’t relish blowing my Achilles and my calf muscle. [laughs] Last night I was so depressed watching the show knowing we had to leave and we didn’t get to go on to the next places they’re going to. But while we were there, we had a great time.
THE DEADBOLT: Well, I’m glad it all worked out and you’re doing well. I hope to see you guys in the future.
DAVID: We hope so, too.
How did you feel about David and Connor running The Amazing Race as long as they did? Do you think they should get a second chance?