28th challenge completed – Indoor volleyball

2015 so far has been full on, to-date I’ve run over 100 miles, including the ultimate challenge of scaling box hill in Surrey, taking part in a boxing session and today I’ve completed my 28th Olympic challenge.2015-01-24 12.29.14

I’ve been following Go Mammoth for a while now as they run various sporting events and competitions. They describe themselves as UK’s number one social sports and fitness club, encouraging an easy way into sport, whether you are part of a team or an individual.

One of the sports that they run is volleyball, with many weekly leagues taking place across London. I had hoped to take part in one of the leagues, but the location of the matches means that it is difficult for me to commit to a full schedule. Luckily they occasionally run clinics so I signed up to one taking place at Paddington Academy.2015-01-24 12.32.47

The 2 hour session (lasted 3 hours), consisted of basic skills, advanced drills and various game play situations. There were 22 people in total, but despite the large numbers the coach, Mark, did a great job keeping things moving and making the session enjoyable.

I actually learnt a lot and felt that I really held my own despite the majority of the other players being part of the regular leagues.

I hoping it hasn’t taken too much out of my legs, as I’m about to go on a 16 mile run.2015-01-24 12.32.44

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27th challenge completed – Boxing

So the rules of Olympic boxing state that all boxers must be at least 17 years old, be no older than 34 and must be amateur athletes. I’m definitely an amateur and will be 34 at the time of the Rio Olympics, so I have one chance and one chance only to make it to the Olympics as a boxer.

With that in mind I needed to get into training straight away so I arranged a private 1-2-1 lesson at the City Gym in Southwark. I’d looked around at a few gyms in London and picked this one as it looked the most professional and least likely to chuck me straight into a ring with a Mike Tyson wannabe.2015-01-10 13.45.18

When I first arrived at the gym I started looking around and picked up a couple of leaflets, one of which was promoting the ‘white collar boxing’ which is a form of boxing in which people in white-collar professions train to fight at special events. I briefly contemplated whether this could be the boxing challenge and then remembered about a recent news report I saw where individuals had been paired up against people who were bigger and stronger than them and ended up getting seriously hurt. I quickly saw sense.

My coach was a bloke called Nigel, a cockney and proper old school boxing guy. We started with a bit of a tour of the gym and he talked me through the different training areas, punch bags and rings.


He then started to strap my hands, helped me put on the gloves and I joined him in the ring. I thought I would have spent most of the session practicing on the punch bags, with potentially a short sparring session at the end. Going straight into sparring though was ideal as I really wanted to learn the basics and experience what it would be like to throw a few punches. So it began, me with the gloves and the coach with the pads.

Just standing in the ring was a surreal experience, I pretended I was Muhammad Ali fighting George Foreman in ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ – not sure I looked like him though. I was told I box orthodox – which is the most common way, where you lead with your left and predominately use the right hand to land the big punch. The first thing we practiced was the positioning and movement. I picked this up relatively easily although my legs were a bit stiff from my 14 mile run this morning. We then started working on the jab with the left before adding in the big right hand (I say it was big – in reality it was probably a bit more like a whisper) and alternating between the two. After a few goes I really started to get the hang of it and we progressed into quick 1-2s, ducking and diving, multiple punches and moving around the ring. It was a tough workout and I was really starting to appreciate how difficult it would be to go a full 12 rounds, I wasn’t even getting hit and I was shattered by the end.

I got a lot of praise from the coach but I’m not sure Floyd Mayweather has anything to worry about. It was great fun and if I had more time I would seriously consider using boxing as a way of keeping fit – but that’s as far as I would take it as the thought of getting hit hard in the head is not particularly appealing.

I’m looking forward to watching the Olympic and making comments like ‘I would have followed up the jab with a big right’ or ‘well as an orthodox fighter’.

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The plan for 2015

I started 2015 in a way that sums up the new me. Instead of the usual going out on new year’s eve, we stayed in as I prepared for the Serpentine NYE 10k run. In fairness we had spent a week on the road over the festive period and we’d run out of energy come the 31st. My early night was rewarded as I bagged myself a new 10k PB of 43.51.


The first 3 months of 2015 will largely be dedicated to training for the Greater Manchester Marathon and my goal of sub-3.30, although I have found time to schedule the volleyball and rugby challenges.

So this leaves an additional 13 and certainly not the easiest of 13.

The two aquatic sports of synchronised swimming and water polo will prove a challenge. Sychro is not a male sport in the Olympics and water polo is often played at a very competitive level.

Next is basketball, there are plenty of social leagues around London so it should be just a case of finding the time to take part in one.

Boxing, well I’m not particularly looking forward to this one and decided against anything that involves me getting punched. I’ll arrange a training session at some point.

Then comes the three equestrian sports of dressage, eventing and jumping. I’m still not exactly sure how this will be achieved but some sort of course or series of private lessons is probably on the cards.

Gymnastics is another sport split into three; artistic gymnastics, rhythmic gymnastics and trampoline. We have a couple of friends that are coaches so the plan will be to spend a day learning various routines. Hoping to rope in a few others as well.

Hockey in a similar way to basketball has a number of social leagues in London so it should just be a matter of time before I can find a date in 2015 to play.

Modern pentathlon is a combination of:

  • Fencing (completed 23rd Aug, 2013)
  • Swimming (completed 23rd Mar, 2013)
  • Pistol Shooting (completed 2nd Dec, 2012)
  • Cross-Country Run (completed 26th Oct, 2014)
  • Show jumping

Once I’ve completed jumping as part of the equestrian sports this will be complete.

Taekwondo is available in a number of places across London but it would be good to find a proper beginners course and really get into one of the martial art disciplines.

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