Triple jump ace Jonathan Edwards hops on his bike for charity ride

Record breaking North East athlete Jonathan Edwards gears up for an epic bike challenge to raise money for Marie Curie Cancer Care

Adrian Myers Record-breaking North East athlete Jonathan Edwards
Record-breaking North East athlete Jonathan Edwards

Record-breaking North East athlete Jonathan Edwards is gearing up for his latest challenge - a tortuous cycle ride.

The Etape Pennines is claimed by organisers to be one of the most challenging events on the sporting calendar.

Although the route is just 60 miles long, Jonathan and 2,000 fellow cyclists taking part will have to overcome a series of muscle-sapping climbs during it.

It takes place on July 30, starting and finishing in Barnard Castle, County Durham, and is staged to raise money for Marie Curie Cancer Care.

Jonathan said: “It’s a challenge and it’s nice to have that, to have a focus in training. When I line up on the start line, people will think I’m good, so if I’m not, it will be embarrassing!”

It was in 2003 that Jonathan, who lives in Gosforth, Newcastle, ended a glittering career which saw him claim World and Olympic Gold medals in the triple jump. He also set the world record in the event with a leap of 18m 29cm in 1995 - a record that stands to this day.

After years of competition he took a more relaxed approach to retirement.

“I wasn’t fit as I didn’t do anything for six years after I retired except play golf,” he said. “I said it’s not good enough and I got into cycling. I now go out for rides that last three or four hours and I average 20mph, so I would say I’m pretty fit.”

His training will have to be put on hold next week as he jets out to Russia on Monday for 16 days where he will be fronting BBC’s coverage of the Winter Olympics alongside Clare Balding and Hazel Irvine.

The event in Sochi is the subject of strict security because of the threat of terrorist attack. Jonathan said: “I don’t worry about terrorist threats, the security is red hot and if there is an attack, it would be away from the main areas where all the security is. I’m not concerned about it. I’m more concerned about an overbearing security process and it stopping the Games being the celebration it should be.”

Explaining why he got involved in the charity cycling event, he said: “I don’t have a personal association to Marie Curie. I’ve done a couple of things for them over the years. They do a phenomenal job and to be part of something like this, for such a great cause, is really important to me. It makes it all so worthwhile.

“It’s frustrating as the Winter Olympics will make training lighter, but I stay pretty focused with training, I will be working hard regardless. The Etape Pennines is my first event of this kind, it’s a really tough event, and preparing for an event like this gives me great motivation.”

He said there were similarities between the cycling event and his time as a world-class athlete.

“The mechanics are the same, you’ve got a target, and I understand if I want to do well on July 20, I need to put the time in now.

“There are no shortcuts in endurance sport. You work hard and you’re going to improve. I’m comfortable having that life process and routine in my life again.”

He added: “Hopefully we’ll get a nice sunny day and I’ll be in my T-shirt. I have a good idea of what my limits are and I won’t be competitive with people. I’ll keep pace with a group of similar standard.”

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