Tips from Sir Chris Hoy for Olympians' African epic
A TEAM of elite swimmers – including Belper's Ross Davenport – have received the best possible advice ahead of their gruelling charity bike ride across Zambia.
Cycling supremo Sir Chris Hoy offered the group tips to help them survive the four-day challenge in temperatures exceeding 30C.
Davenport, 28, is being joined by London 2012 bronze medallist Becky Adlington on the 280-mile trek, as well as 2008 Olympic bronze medallist Jo Jackson and fellow ex-Olympian and ride organiser Mel Marshall, who is now head coach at the City of Derby Swimming Club.
Sir Chris, who became Britain's most successful Olympian of all time at London 2012 with a sixth gold medal, has spoken to Becky about the ride.
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At a press conference yesterday, she said she had passed on his expert words of wisdom to the rest of the team. Becky said: "Cycling is very different to what I'm used to and I've struggled a bit with my confidence on the bike, but I've done some good test runs in the last few weeks and I've spoken to Chris Hoy to get some tips and passed them on to the other three.
"Bike for Africa is a great challenge and I'm really looking forward to getting out to Zambia for what I'm sure will be one of the most amazing and unforgettable experiences of my life.
"It will be one of the toughest things I've ever done but riding as part of a team with the other swimmers will definitely spur me on to the end."
The quartet are due to fly out to Africa today. They aim to raise £50,000 for Sport In Action – a non-government-funded organisation that inspires change within impoverished communities.
They will set out from Livingstone, on the edge of the Victoria Falls National Park, tomorrow.
Ross is taking part despite injuries to both knees hampering his training in recent weeks. He said: "I think the swimming training has given us a massive advantage.
"Swimming is a gruelling sport and to come into something like Bike For Africa is completely different but we do have that fitness behind us, that engine inside us, that can push us through.
"Also we're immensely competitive and we've got that grit and determination, so hopefully that will get us through the challenge."
The Bike for Africa challenge, supported by British Gas and UK Sport, should see them arrive in the capital, Lusaka, four days later. En route they will visit a number of projects supported by UK Sport. There will be no creature comforts or five-star hotels. Instead, they will stay with local families.
Once in Lusaka, the team will give swimming lessons at a pool that has been renovated with £13,000 raised at a charity ball organised by Mel.
All the money the quartet raise will go towards construction of a physiotherapy wing at an Aids hospital.
To donate, visit www.just giving.com/ZambiaCycle.