At the end of April England cricketing legend Andrew “Freddie” Flintoff joined former England rugby star Lawrence Dallaglio to take part in an epic bike challenge to raise vital funds for charity, helping to support the refurbishment of Great Ormond Street Hospital’s physiotherapy unit.
The ride – called The Dallaglio Flintoff Cycle Slam – took nearly four weeks to complete, involved 230 cyclists and saw the pair travel 2,872 km across Europe, starting at the birthplace of the ancient Olympic Games – Olympia in Greece – to this year’s Olympic 2012 venue in east London.
A joint effort
Flintoff explains how the journey came about: “It was an idea conceived with Lawrence Dallaglio for our respective foundations to raise money. We started in Olympia and then cycled all the way to Stratford. We didn’t take the most direct of routes, either, going through the Italian Alps, the Swiss Alps…”
Whilst it was a joint project with Lawrence Dallaglio, Flintoff didn’t see much of him: “I didn’t spend so much time with him to be honest – he was peddling far faster! Lawrence is a machine – just gets on his bike and peddles! I think he quite liked cycling and trained for it, unfortunately I’d not trained and I was found out in the first couple of weeks, but got stronger as it went on. It took three and a half weeks cycling with a sore bum but we got there in the end!”
So far over £1.9 million has been raised via the Dallaglio Foundation, the A F Foundation and Virgin Unite. Flintoff’s charitable foundation, the A F Foundation has chosen to support Great Ormond Street Hospital by raising funds to redevelop the hospital’s current outpatient physiotherapy unit.
“The fundraising’s going really well. We’re up to about £1.9million at the minute. The target was £2,012,000, for the year 2012 but hopefully we should get past that with some of the money which has been pledged. We’re on course to reach the target and a little bit more.”
The motivation to keep going
Flintoff admits that cycling wouldn’t be his sport of choice: “I hate cycling and I hate it even more now, and I’ve cycled 3000 kilometres! The one thing about the cycling was that although some days were pretty hard and you had aching limbs and you were a bit sore, you knew that it was through choice and it was just for a small, small period of my life. Some of the kids we’re trying to help have a daily struggle to get back on their feet, to walk, or have had complex surgery – that was the motivation.”
“When you’re climbing up a hill in the Alps for 84 kilometres and all you can think about is getting off your bike, the driving force to finish was seeing some of the kids we’ve helped in the past. And then also thinking about how much good the money can do in the future.”
Great Ormond Street Hospital was a natural choice for the A F Foundation: “We had a tour of the hospital, met some of the kids… It was obvious that it would be perfect. It’s based in London but there’s kids from all over the country and all over the world and hopefully we can be a small part of that with the A F Foundation.”
“It was more rewarding than probably anything I’ve achieved in sport – which is just hitting a ball and trying to catch one or throw one – whereas this is affecting lives and it’s making a big difference.”
Discover how you too could take on an incredible challenge to help support Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity.