News & Features

5th September 2016

End of Challenge Round-Up! 

Sarah & Ellie: We did it!! Four years and 114 events (plus six bonus events!) later, and the Challenge is complete! We're writing this a couple of weeks after we crossed the finish line, and it still feels very strange that we did something so massive. We've both had times over the last year when we wondered if we'd manage it; everything seemed stacked against us at times, but we kept on ticking the events off and suddenly found ourselves at number 114. It's been an amazing four year experience; the clubs and individuals we've met along the way have given us a real incite in to the passion of grassroots clubs around the country. We're so grateful to everyone who has helped us for their time and expertise. It's been inspiring seeing the dedication of the athletes, coaches and their supporters. 

We've learnt lots along the way, but the main thing that's really stuck with us is if you're interested or intrigued in a sport, just give it a go...not once, but twice! It can feel quite daunting starting something new, going along to a sports hall for your first session, but once your first session nerves have worn off and you know a bit more about the sport and the club (you'd be surprised how much you can pick up in a hour!), we're sure you will feel much more comfortable in the second lesson. We can guarantee that you will be made to feel so welcome. 

We've crunched some numbers, and calculated it's cost us £872.66 each for the four years, That only reflects the cost of the actual events...we'll leave it to you to imagine the additional petrol/train/accommodation/ferry/food/kit/sports drinks/alcohol drinks/medal costs!  

How do we follow this challenge, we hear you ask?! The one down-side of the Challenge was that we both found sports we really enjoyed, but with so many others to tackle we just didn't have the time to pursue them! Ellie is looking for boxing clubs and thinking about getting in to chess boxing, whilst also getting back in the pool (though not at the same time!). Sarah is already back on the bike and enjoying getting out with friends in their weekly cycling club, and eyeing up a cycling challenge next year. She is also trying to decide whether to invest in a new road bike or a kayak...the kayak's in the lead at the moment! She also really enjoyed the team sports so is arranging a netball match and keen to join a Hockey club. 

We're also very happy to say that we're not retiring from Olympic life completely and will be exploring some more bonus sports at a much more leisurely pace! 


7th June 2016

Sarah and Ellie go to Jersey! 

Ellie: During May Sarah and I took a trip to Jersey to complete our Pistol shoot event. At the start of the weekend I found this amazing app* called and with it I created this little masterpiece! Enjoy! 

*We are not being paid to promote this app - it really is amazing! 

3rd March 2016

World Book Day and meeting Sir Chris Hoy

Ellie: Sir Chris Hoy MBE - 6 x Olympic Champion, 11 x World Champion, 2008 Sporting Personality of the year, Team GB's most successful Olympic athlete and now, children's author! In collaboration with author Joanna Nadin and Illustrator Clare Elsom; Flying Fergus is a series of books for children aged 5-8 that explore friendship, bullying and some magically, mysterious cycling adventures.

Sir Chris Hoy and Michael Rosen at Discover. Photograph thanks to Paul Boyling

Sir Chris Hoy reads from Flying Fergus. Photograph thanks to Paul Boyling

As part of the Big Write Festival of Children's Literature, Discover invited Chris, Joanna and Clare to talk to some of the school children of East London about reading, writing and cycling. They chatted about sport, their favourite stories as they were growing up and, upon request, Clare drew Lionel Messi.

Check out the Ceiling!

After the event I was lucky enough to chat to Chris who was so positive and encouraging about our challenge and wished us a lot of luck with the last few months.

27th December 2015

End of Year Round Up!

Sarah and Ellie: This is the last ever 'end of year round up' so enjoy it whilst you can! This time next year we'll be too busy sitting on our new tropical island we bought with all the sponsorship money that will come rolling in when we finish our events in just eight little terrifying months.

Wouldn't it be nice if we could report how ahead of schedule we are to you?! But in true Olympic Challenge way, why make the next eight months any easier on ourselves?! With just 17 events completed in 2015, we have 29 to do before the end of Rio in 2016. 

It's been a really eventful year, and not that we're trying to make excuses but real life has taken over a little bit. Ellie has started another new job, and Sarah has been settling in to hers; we find ourselves in crazy-busy jobs that make coordinating free time for sport a bit tricky. In the latter part of the year Sarah had two operations on her leg, meaning rest and recuperation over sport had to be the order of the day. Hopefully when the current set of stitches come out at the start of January it will be Game On once again! We were even thwarted by the weather when storm Abigail cancelled our ferry to Jersey for our last shooting event. On a happier note, the little fact of Sarah's wedding saw her spend a lot of time planning in front of Excel spreadsheets and Ellie spending a lot of time rehearsing her Best Woman speech!

So what have we been doing, you may ask yourself?! Well, we have still found the time for 17 events this year, including Rowing, Synchronised Swimming, Athletics, Tennis... well, just go and read the blog.

On to 2016 and the FINAL YEAR of the Challenge. How did that happen?! In theory we are extremely organised and the seemingly impossible target of the last 29 events in just eight months is completely do-able! I mean, we have colour-coded spreadsheets; what could go wrong?! There are many events we told ourselves back at the start of all this that we wouldn't leave to the end. But we have. So for the third, and final time...look forward to horses making an appearance!

We can't believe we're approaching the end of this huge, stupid, amazing undertaking. We hope you enjoy these last few months as much as we will!

 2nd August 2015 

Meeting Paralympian Robin Surgeoner

Ellie: Here at Discover, my new place of work, we run a group called Mighty Mega. Mighty Mega is for children with special educational needs and this term they were working on a song for the Newham Carnival. 

Robin Surgeoner was invited along to help write the Mighty Mega theme song. As a writer, poet and songwriter he has been performing since the 1980's. Prior to his arts career he was a full time athlete competing as a swimmer for Great Britain in three Paralympic Games. 

It was an absolute pleasure to meet Robin (and his Gold medal!). Robin has competed in the '84, '88 and '92 Paralympics and won medals in '84 and '88 for Freestyle, Backstroke and Breaststroke swimming. 

For more information on Robin check out his website -

 27th December 2014 

End of Year Round Up!

Sarah and Ellie: Hello there, and welcome to the end of year round up! We're sitting here reflecting on another busy year and planning an exciting year ahead; our last full year of the Challenge!
January was way more productive than we'd feared and we got off to a cracking start. We spent the rest of the winter months holed up with Colchester and District Fencing; ticking off five events- the most we've done with a single club so far. March saw us beat each other up with Boxing and Wrestling; something we both pretended not to enjoy. We tackled some pretty demanding sports this year; Handball, Butterfly, Diving and the Race Walk, along with a bit of jumping around with High Jump, Hurdles, and one of Ellie's favourites of the year- Pole Vault. Another of Ellie's favourites were the two archery events, confirming her status as the sure-shot of the duo. Sarah's highlights were the Kayaking (despite the constant fear and likelihood of falling in the river), and the Road Cycling; a sport she's now signed up to for life! Overall, we've got through 29 events in 2014, bringing us in 1-under par but we did also complete our second bonus event with a Winter Olympics stalwart; the Curling.
We're really excited about the events coming up in 2015, and a bit terrified too. We've got some serious training to do, and just about getting used to the idea of spending more time in wetsuits. Get ready for; more diving, rowing, sailing, football and.... horses.

Up the Orbit overlooking the Olympic Stadium with Clare and Elaine

2nd November 2014 

Premier and British Open Canoe Slalom Competition at Lee Valley

Sarah: We were recently invited along to the Premier and British Open Canoe Slalom Competition by the folk at Lee Valley Paddle Sports Club. It gave us a chance to see the best of GB's canoe slalom athletes battle it out on the Olympic course, and an amazing introduction to the event. We completed our Canoe Sprints earlier in the year, and contacted the club to ask for their help with the tricky Slalom event. Before tackling our own slalom course, we spent a few hours watching the pros. The facilities at the white water centre are incredible, and so accessible. I can think of few other sports where you can get so close to the action, and see the professional athletes for free.


Glen and Rob from the club explained to us the legacy programmes put in place after the GB Olympic success and the opportunities they have given young people within the sport. Talent spotters regularly visit local schools and introduce people to the programmes, where they gain access to the facilities, equipment and training needed to develop their slalom skills. The sport is so open, and young athletes train on the lake or legacy loop alongside the pros on the Olympic course, and get huge encouragement from the stars of the sport. 

All ages took part in the competitions we saw, and gave an amazing demonstration of how it's meant to be done. We got to 'meet' the GB squad (well, their cardboard cutouts), were interviewed for the live PA broadcast, and had our moment on top of the gold medal podium!


It was a great way to spend the morning, and we'd really encourage everyone to go and explore Lee Valley! You'll be able to read about our own Slalom experience on the blog soon!

10 October 2014 

Swimming the Forty Foot.

Ellie: Prior to Christmas 2013, I wrote a Top 5 Feature (below) about sporting events to see you through the Christmas period and one of those was a Yule Tide dip in Dublin's Forty Foot. Situated in Sandycove, the Forty Foot has been used as a communal swim space for around 250 and this is the mini-story of my trip and... er... dip! 

In the summer or 2013 my brother moved to Dublin to live with his partner and I've tried to visit as often as I can. In July 2014, I visited with the lovely Clare Charles and one of the things we were most keen to do was visit Sandycove and take a swim. 

It's a little tricky to find but it's well worth it once you do. Forty Foot is a really beautiful spot and even though it was a chilly July day it was pretty busy. A few of the locals told it was the warmest it had been this summer and offered to hugs us to show us how warm it was! 
And so in we got. Clare slipped in like a salmon but I've always been a slow starter and the cold almost got the better of me but I managed to get in eventually. I can't hide the fact that it was cold - so cold that I had to try really hard to control my breathing BUT once I'd gotten use to it, it was really exhilarating and after getting out I really wanted to get in again.

It's not an easy swim, in fact, I mostly just bobbed about but as a swimming experience, it was one of a kind for me. It has a wonderful, community feel - with people diving and bobbing, or coming just to catch up with other locals which is a nice contrast to the roughness of the water. There were tourists taking a peek before visiting the James Joyce Tower and Museum and people visiting in their lunch break; there were people in wet suits and people like us who were less well prepared. Some swimmers were setting out on a longer swim around the promontory. Whatever the visit, I'd recommend it and I'll be going back once the summer returns next year.

30 July 2014 

TOP 5 - Ellie's pick of the Commonwealth Games.

Ellie: The 20th Commonwealth Games began last week in Glasgow and so far it's been very entertaining. Reports of a similar atmosphere to London 2012 and many an England Gold medal making it very enjoyable to watch. But what should you focus on? Here is a list of what I recommend!

5. Netball.
Netball is a 'sometimes in, sometimes out' sport for the Olympics and in 2012 it was out. It's superb to watch a game at full speed rather than the stunted matches I used to play at school. It's a real eye opener as to what a playground sport really can be.

Without a doubt a sport that wouldn't have paid much attention to before giving it a go myself. Weightlifting is so much more than lifting something heavy whilst wearing a leotard - you need stability, timing and strength as well as the all-important balance. N.B. you do also need a leotard.

3. Diving.
An event that Sarah and I are yet to tackle and one that is causing us increasing sensations of nausea. Alongside the fearsome height, the skill needed to complete such routines in sometimes less than 3 seconds is breath-taking. And that's not even thinking about the synchronised dives.

When I say Lawn Bowls does it conjure the image of OAPs slowly rolling balls around in the park, sipping tea and eating tiny triangular sandwiches? Well, it shouldn't. Lawn Bowls is a precision sport for all ages and one I'm keen to have a go at.

A sport that is fluid and visually beautiful which makes it very watchable. Now that we have had a go at some of the disciplines I can appreciate the balance, strength and stamina needed and it makes the grace and poise all the more impressive. Plus England's rising stars give us a real hope at medal glory which would be great to see - everyone loves medals!

8th July 2014

HALFWAY Special.

Ellie: You may have noticed that our Handball match on the 23rd of June was our halfway event! We were so happy to reach that mile stone and to have completed it before the midpoint between London 2012 and Rio 2016 felt like a great achievement... and a massive relief! 

We are going to mark these two dates in different ways and to start with we thought we'd ask each other some questions to get us reminiscing and looking forward to the 57 events to come! 

Questions from Ellie to Sarah
E: What have you enjoyed the most so far?
S: I've enjoyed being forced to try certain sports I'd probably never have attempted if we weren't doing this challenge. The feeling of completing an event and seeing our progress over the practice weeks is really satisfying, and I always feel proud of us when we've done it. There have certainly been some stand-out sports for me which I'm keen to keep pursuing; hockey, kayaking and road cycling (which has stolen my heart) for starters.

E: After doing this for two years, is there any piece of equipment, clothing or advice that you wouldn't do without?
S: The main piece of advice, which we suspected at the start, but has become more and more apparent as we go along is; anyone can do this! If you want to try out a sport, just do it! So far, everyone we've met at the clubs has been really welcoming and happy to share their advice and knowledge with us. On the equipment front, I recently bought a cheap cycle computer which tracks my miles, average speed and most addictively; top-speed, which I now wouldn't cycle without. It's great for tracking my progress and see the miles clocking up. 

E: If you could take 114OlympicGames on the road to complete an event, where would you take us?
S: Well. It's funny you should mention that, as we have to go on tour in the next couple of years to complete the 25m pistol event; a sport that has been banned in this country. I'm really looking forward to studying the atlas and deciding where to go for that one! It will also be nice to compete in a few more big organised events such as the triathlon and marathon. Mainly for the finishers medal, but also for that euphoric feeling of achieving a huge milestone amongst a big group of people who have also trained so hard and just succeeded in the same thing.

E: If you could meet any sportsperson or athlete who would it be and why?
S: That is such a hard question to answer! I'd happily meet anyone really! I've read a lot of sports autobiographies over the last couple of years, and two of the most entertaining have been by Mark Cavendish. He comes across as being so passionate, and so brutally honest (about himself as well as others). I think he'd be very interesting to sit down for a sports-pint with. I'd also love to meet Paula Radcliffe. Her career is legendary and she has helped inspire so many future runners. I've been neglecting running a bit lately in favour of cycling, but I still think it's one of the most accessible sports for everyone. It's so easy to pull on your trainers and get out there, and if you follow a training plan, it's so encouraging to see how quickly you progress. Saying all of that, the athlete I would most like to meet competes in a sport we haven't tried yet- Taekwondo. Sarah Stevenson was a real inspiration to me during a very difficult time in my life. She suffered huge, unthinkable personal tragedy, and spoke so openly about cancer and grief (which is so uncommon, yet offers so much support). During such a hard time, she found the strength, focus and determination to succeed in her sport and was invited to take the oath in the Olympic opening ceremony. I can't think of a more worthy person to have had that honour, and I'd love to meet her.

E: What are you looking forward to in the remaining two years?
S: More of the same! There are some events remaining that I'm dreading (hello high-dive), so it will be brilliant to tackle that particular fear, and get them ticked off. I really enjoy focusing on an event, and we have lots coming up that will need serious training, so I'm looking forward to getting stuck in. I'm also really looking forward to planning our big finale; that's going to be an excellent party!

Questions from Sarah to Ellie
S: What has been your favourite moment of the challenge so far?
E: I have so many memories of events coming to mind! I'll try and keep it to three quite different ones. On the 25th of April 2013 we spent the day around Essex completing five events, we swam in the morning, then went shooting and in the evening we visited Southend Athletics club and ticked off two jumping events. It was a lovely, sunny day and we got to see some beautiful Essex countryside as well as it being really productive for the challenge. We also met some very spirited people and worked again with people who have been very supportive along the way.
I'd also mention the interview we gave for Radio Essex' Mark Punter back in December 2013. It was really nerve-wrecking but a very interesting and new experience. 
I could mention so many of our events as there has generally been something positive to take away from each of them and it's hard to chose between them but I'm going to say the Artistic Gymnastic Floor Exercise. It was pure, unadulterated fun - we should have filmed it!  

S: Do you have any advice for anyone who would like to take up a new sport, isn't sure where to start?
E: We decided early on in our challenge that we would complete as many events as possible in our home county of Essex. This was an experiment that we hoped would show that you needn't go far and wide for 'exotic' sports as you can find them locally. There have been very few that we've had to travel far for. So, my advice is this - 
1, Search it out if you like the look of it. There are grass roots clubs in sports halls all over the place and they are very welcoming to newcomers and glad to share their expertise and enthusiasm; don't assume that because it's not an obvious sport that you won't be able to find someone to give you a hand.
2, Commit to at least four session. There have been a few sports that I didn't feel suited to after the first session and if I hadn't had to come back, maybe I wouldn't have. This would have been a real shame as often, after a few more attempts, something has clicked and I've found the joy in them. Obviously, not everything will suit everyone but if you're keen, you'll usually get into the groove after the beginners nerves (or even luck) has worn off! 
3, Be comfortable. If you aren't happy being thrown in at the deep end then give yourself a break, if you know you don't like the cold then stay indoors or if you don't fancy doing something by yourself then seek out someone to come along with you. Simple things will make a difference - Sarah wears a nose clip when swimming, I like a pair of leggings under sports trousers in the winter and I'm all for cake as a reward for putting effort in! If you aren't enjoying yourself then stop - it's not worth it if you aren't having fun. What I'm saying is that once you're participating in sport for fun rather than as part of a curriculum you have the luxury of designing your own fitness lifestyle. 

S: Out of the remaining 57 events, what are you most looking forward to?
E: The next 57 events are split fairly evenly between looking forward to a lot and being really daunted by. I'm very much looking forward to the high dive events and the Beach Volleyball which is coming up in a few weeks. Also, the synchronised swimming events. I'm looking forward to some of the up and coming events being over! 

S: Are there any sports not in our list of 2012 Olympic events that you'd like to give a try?
E: Definitely, in theory this challenge could continue on and on as the powers that be add different sports for each Olympic games. There are also all the Winter sports to consider and not to mention all the variations within the Paralympic games. Of the sports that are regularly in the Olympics but were omitted in 2012, I would like to have played Squash and Netball. Of the sports on display in the Sochi Winter games, the Bobsleigh and the Curling look appealing and of the non-Olympic sports out there I'd always want to try Cricket and maybe... cheer-leading?!

S: You love your Top 5's; what are your top 5 events we've completed so far?
E: Wow, this is difficult. Well, to give myself more choices I won't put Artistic Gymnastic Floor Exercise in as I've mentioned it already! Here are my chosen few. Please bear in mind that on any other day they could have been completely different; I really have enjoyed so many!

1. Sabre Fencing - this was the fencing event that fired my imagination the most. The sword was the most impressive and the actions the most liberating. 
2. Basketball - I like basketball as much as the next mildly interested in basketball person but the great thing about this event was that it brought so many of our friends from different paths together. We had work friends, school and university friends, life-long friends and new WI friends - it was a wonderful mix and a great afternoon of sport.
3. Volleyball - This is a sport that I'd tried at school and that I'd liked but not overly loved but the enthusiasm and team spirit at Tendring Volleyball club became infectious. It is also a great sport for all weathers as we can head out to the beach once it becomes too warm to stay indoors!
4. Weightlifting - I'm choosing weightlifting for the opportunity it gave us. I wasn't very good at the weightlifting as my balance is poor and I couldn't stay down in the squat position but when given the opportunity to try Powerlifting, the sport became accessible to me. It's an event that has taught me to remember my limits and that these don't mean I can't do something but that I may need to vary it.
5. Boxing - definitely a sport I wasn't interested in before having a go. It's got something for everyone - power, speed, routine, rhythm and tactics - and is as all-inclusive as you could wish. There are many opportunities out there within Boxing; from boxercise at the gym to sparring and circuit training for those wanting a full boxing experience and each allows you to play to your strengths. I had my doubts about this event and would never suggest boxing someone you are close to but it is certainly top of my list of sports to be continued after we finish.

14 June 2014

TOP 5 - Ellie's Top World Cup teams.

Ellie: The 2014 Footballing World Cup has begun and England play their first match this evening. I've set up my work's sweepstakes and drawn Brazil for myself - it was not a set up I promise. I'm not a massive football fan but competitions like these are compelling for good and bad reasons. Here is my Top 5 teams to watch/bet on! 

5. Belgium - Did not qualify in 2010
Many peoples wildcard, and it's not difficult to see why when you read through the teamsheet. With players like Hazard, Lakuku, Vertonghan, Januzaj and Courtois to name a few. Is this the year that they pull it all together and walk away winners or is it still that little bit too early for the young Belgians? Expect Lukaku to score a hat full of goals at the very least!

4. Germany - Semi Finalists in 2010
The Germans know how to go far in these tournaments. With the resurgence of the Bundesliga they look a fairly complete team but how will Joachim Louw line them up with only Miroslav Klose up front? 

3. Argentina - Quarter finalists in 2010
One word for you - Messi... okay, you'd like a few more? Possibly the best forward line-up in the competition and depth to match. As has been the case in the past two World Cup campaigns although their defense is a little lacking. But if Aguero, Higuian, Messi and co can perform that may not even matter.

2. Netherlands - Finalists in 2010
Fresh from a destructive 5-1 win over the current World Cup holders, the Dutch are definitely worth keeping an eye on. With, soon to become Man Utd manager, Louis Van Gaal at the helm anything is possible. Their campaign may hinge on injuries though; keep everyone fit and they could play themselves through to the final. 

1. Brazil - Quarter Finalists in 2010 and 2014 host nation.
If Brazil take home the World Cup Trophy I take home a nice little sweepstakes kitty so I'd be over the moon and they really do stand a good chance. Along with being host nation and the country that has lifted the World Cup the most, they also have top quality players - none less than Neymar Jr, the current Barcelona star. With his record of 33 goals in 50 games for Brazil they shouldn't find goals hard to come by. The only question being - can the defense focus long enough not to concede? 

And then there's England. I hear we're not going to win. If England win then I'm Michael Fish - that's how confident I am in my prediction and how daft I may look if we go all the way... In honesty, I'm not that interested in Football, as you know I'm a cricket fan. One thing I can't ignore is that Essex Police predict an upsurge in domestic abuse during this tournament which is such a startling negative. 

Okay, Okay. One more little thing... You've probably worked it out but I didn't write the majority of this Top 5. I put across a list of possible teams and my Brother (@RowenFarrow) justified my choices by knowing stuff and how to write it out. Thanks for the help, Rowen!  

14 May 2014

Women's Tour 2014 

Sarah: I was lucky enough to catch two stages of the Women's Tour as it rode through Essex last week. The Women's Tour started in 2010 and has gained momentum ever since, originally running next to the Men's Tour races. It was decided in 2013 that this year the Women's Tour would be included in the UCI race calendar and operate as a stand alone race; becoming the first of it's kind in Britain and matching the top women's races around the world. The five-stage event brought the world's top women cyclists to the roads of Essex and the crowds came out to cheer them along the route.

End of the second sprint section, Stage 3, Thorpe

In Thorpe, we were positioned right by the end of the second sprint and saw Marianne Vos snatch the win, before she went on to take the Stage, and ultimately the overall Tour title. The anticipation of the elite peloton racing past is rewarded with the incredible blink-and-you-miss-it pace of the cyclists.

At the start, Stage 5, Harwich
The final stage of the Women's Tour started in Harwich, just before the Tour de Tendring event kicked off, and hundreds of cyclists arrived early to cheer the pros on. It was a real bonus to see the elite race start just before our own race, knowing we were riding on the same road as the stars of the cycling world, just at a slightly slower pace!

They're off! Stage 5, Harwich
I really hope the Tour will be back in Essex next year, perhaps with even more outreach events as it gains in status.

10 January 2014

New Year Round Up

Sarah: Well, what a year 2013 was in the world of 114 Olympic Games! We competed in 29 different Olympic events, and threw ourselves in to so many new sports, with varying degrees of success! We start 2014 just two events behind schedule and aim to catch up by the end of the first couple of months. We've got 2014 mapped out, and if all goes to plan we'll be tackling some big sports this year. We have 32 events to get through, so there will be lots going on! Keep your eyes on the blog for; Wrestling, Fencing, Canoeing, Kayaking, Handball and many more! We're also looking forward to finishing off some events that we've been training for in 2013. We finally have a lead with a Boxing club who (fingers crossed!) should be able to help us host our match. After our taster ride in Manchester, we're really looking forward to returning to the Velodrome to get above that blue line, and we'll be hitting the sand with some Beach Volleyball later in the year once it's a bit warmer.

Thanks to everyone who has supported us and helped us with our events throughout 2013.  We've met some inspiring people, and been welcomed into some amazing clubs. Thanks also to everyone who has taken interest in our ridiculous Challenge! We're always so flattered when someone gets in contact for more information or with words of encouragement, it really means a lot. We're always open to new leads and suggestions, so if you know anyone who may be able to help us with any of our remaining events, please drop us a line.

Finally, 2014 is a big year for another reason; the 5th August marks the halfway point between London and Rio, so halfway through our Challenge! How did that happen?! Two years down, two to go!

11 December 2013 

TOP 5 - Ellie's Sporting Events for the Festive period.

Ellie: Have you already eaten too many mince pies? Drunk too much sherry? Are you in the throws of indigestion at the mere thought of the Christmas day roast? This is my round up of sporting activity that can help burn off those Christmas calories, warm up those winter nights or simply keep your adrenalin flowing long after the rush of the Queen's speech has left you! 
With something for everyone; you'll be hard pushed to have a sport-free yule tide.

5. England V Australia, Cricket. 26th - 30th December. Melbourne, Australia. 
A Predictable start but what else could you look for in a winter sporting treat. After a food filled day settle down in the warmth of your living room and watch England fight for those Ashes (if it's not all over by then... boo).

4. Pop Up Ping Pong. 21st December. Netil House, Hackney, London. (@PingPopPong)
I certainly didn't expect to enjoy Table Tennis as much as we did back at the start of our challenge and so I recommend to you this singular, seasonal party event
Santa's workshop will appear inside Netil House for one night only, featuring a suite of ping pong tables. Giant baubles will hang from the ceiling while presents of all shapes and sizes will adorn the room, ready to descent the nation's chimneys with just days to go! 
Expect music, food and drink, and heaps of atmosphere. A great sport with extra silliness; perfect for this crazy season! 
Tickets are £8, allowing unlimited gaming all night plus a few treats!

3. Runners V Riders. 26th December. Friday Woods, Colchester.
Here's an event for the 114Olympic locals; held each Boxing Day in Friday Woods. Local runners compete against local riders in the cold and the mud! The 11am start means you can afford a lie in and/or a big breakfast then get wrapped up and head out in to the fresh air to cheer on some winter athletes. 

2. Christmas Swimming. Various.
Swimming? At this time of year? Really? Madness. Wonderful, cold madness but once you start it's hard to stop...apparently! Inspired by this project - Watermarked -  and the significant upswing in outdoor swimming's popularity this year, here are some cool, cold and freezing swimming treats for you to check out.

Hampton Pool, Middlesex
A lovely, warm pool that offers 365 days of swimming including Christmas day. For times and prices click HERE! 

Serpentine Christmas Dip, London
This race has a spectacular history involving Mr J M Barrie and has been swum since 1864. Although you have to be a member to take part in the race itself, spectators are warmly welcomed. Click HERE for more information.

Saundersfoot, New Years Day Swim, Pembrokeshire
January 1st 2014 marks the 30th anniversary of this seaside swim. Join the aptly named mascot, Charlie Shivers, at 12.30 for a d-d-d-dip!

The Forty Foot Christmas Dip, Dun Laoghaire, Dublin
A beautiful spot immortalised in James Joyce's Ulysses that holds an all day dip on Christmas Day. A gentleman's only resort until the 1980's, it now attracts visitors year round. For some lovely photographs and more information click HERE! 

1. Ice Skating. Various.
Can you think of anything more festive? For the ultimate Christmas sport look no further than the ice rinks in your area. There are plenty of permanent rinks - Chelmsford springs to mind - but also pop-up rinks at this time of year as well. Beautifully decorated, family friendly and often serving mulled wine (for the adults obvs!), I think this could be the perfect Christmas activity. 
It's unique, fun and has years of tradition and history all wrapped up together!
Click HERE for a lovely list of rinks in the London area. 

12 November 2013 

TOP 5 - Ellie's Sports That Should be in the Olympics.

Ellie: Each time we try a new sport we always look up the rules (obvs!), the origins and the year that it was introduced to the Olympics. 2012 saw the introduction of Women's Boxing, a sport that we are currently training for and enjoying very much. We've also been talking about sports that haven't made it into the Olympics recently (or ever) and those that we wish we could have on the challenge. So here, in reverse order, are my Top 5 Sports that should be in the Olympics.

5. Golf Pentathlon
Okay, I admit it. I was going to say Crazy Golf. Imagine an Olympic gold medal being won or lost over a revolving windmill. BUT when I did some research I found Golf Pentathlon. This is a golfing event that would showcase the separate skills of the athletes. There would be points for distance, putting, accuracy and chipping so you could watch the discipline that interests you most without having to watch people wandering around....I'm sure they could factor in some crazy trousers and a golf cart or two as well.
4. Squash
I've always enjoyed Squash. I've inherited some sort of talent for it – my Dad has many trophies – and I really enjoy being in a big box and smashing a ball into the wall.

Voted the world's healthiest sport by Forbes magazine; squash made a bid to become a 2020 Olympic sport this year but was beaten out by the most in and out of the Olympic sports; Wrestling. What a pity...

3. Ten Pin Bowling
Ten Pin Bowling was a demonstration sport at the 1988 Olympic Games. Why oh Why it didn’t become a mainstay I have no idea. Think of the neon lights, the pop music, the graphics for all the turkeys that would be scored.

On a serious note there are not many people in the UK that haven't been ten pin bowling and it's really good fun. If you want more people to engage with sport in general and the Olympics in specific then including sports that 'regular' people can play without any hassle is probably a good way of going about it.

2. American Football
So far I think the team games have been the most enjoyable for me and can you imagine how mental it would be to play this sport? I could have said Rugby of course, it's a great sport with a rich heritage but the reason is the Six Nations is (for me) the most exciting Rugby tournament because you focus a lot of attention on a few teams. I suppose I would find Olympic Rugby too watered down in comparison. However, as I don't have so much invested in American Football I think I would be more interested. I really enjoy watching the Superbowl each year and shouting "flag on the play" and all the little extras that go along with that - the pumpkin pie, the half-time show, staying awake stupidly late. Sarah and I recently went to Wembley to watch the Jaguars take on the 49ers and it was great watching a slice of something so quintessentially American.  
1. Cricket
Of course, did you really expect anything other than this?
Those of you who know me will know that Cricket is far and away my favourite sport. I watch it religiously, anything cricket makes me happy. Friends have hidden me on Facebook during summer months to avoid reading my near-constant crickety updates. My first full time job was as Membership and Ticket Office Assistant at Essex County Cricket Club – a job I was immensely proud to do at the best cricket club in the country/world/universe.

There are so many levels of skill involved in Cricket. You need power, tactics, cunning and a level of team play beyond any other sport. It attracts amazing athletes and incredible thinkers. Did you know that a lot of WWII code breakers were keen cricketers too?

With the rise of Twenty20 cricket, the formula is in place to start an exciting Olympic adventure bringing together countries that don’t have a massive Olympic presence at the moment with countries that don’t get to play that much international class cricket. In my opinion everyone wins! The world would be a happier, sunnier, more intelligent place with Olympic Cricket in it..!

2 October 2013 

Badminton Grand Prix, London.

Ellie: It was a total pleasure to be invited to the London Badminton Grand Prix. This will now become an annual event as part of the Badminton World Federations gold event series.
Held in the Copper Box, another Olympic venue that we hadn't visited last year, spectators could get really close to the play which made the matches all the more exciting.
There was a great atmosphere; lots of families and school groups mingling with press, players and coaching staff and you could move around the seating areas to get nearer to the most interesting games. Wednesday was one of the qualifying stages and the games were snappy and speedy and we got to see lots of badminton superstars!
The event continues this weekend; information and tickets can be found here or if you would like some general Badminton information go here!

5 August 2013

Three Years To Rio!

Sarah: Yup, that's right.. today marks the quarter point in our Challenge! The Rio Games kick off on 5 August 2016. That means we have 36 months left in which to complete 87 events. Unbelievably, we are only one event behind schedule at the moment, and have to complete 13 more events in 2013 to end the year on track. Easy!

So, what have we been up to lately? Well we completed a run of events in July and have been slogging away at a number of others. For the past couple of months we've been having boxing lessons and getting thoroughly put through our paces. We've learnt the various punches and are moving on to ducking and weaving and putting everything together. The lessons are knackering, but completely brilliant. My upper body strength is definitely improving, though skipping still remains frustratingly difficult. Seriously; go and try skipping at a decent pace for three minutes!

In the midst of opposing work schedules and summer holidays, we went to our first ever Judo lesson, and ached like we've never ached before over the following days. After being shown some basic falling moves and holds, we were thrown in at the deep end and came away with raw toes and a sense of how intense the sport is. The club have really understood our challenge and we're all set to return over the next couple of months.

Our Volleyball offensive continues with beach volleyball and we can't wait to return to the sand courts tomorrow. If we're not too rusty, we're hoping to tick this one off soon!

We've got lots of exciting stuff coming up; it's the Open Day at Southend Athletics Club at the end of August where we'll have our first encounter with 'The Walk' and hopefully high jump. We've also just arranged our first visit to a Velodrome in November. I can't wait for this, but definitely need to get in some cycling practice before we go to remember how to ride a bike properly!

1 June 2013

Go Spike Media Day

Where: Crystal Palace National Sports Centre
When: 14 May 2013

Ellie:  As you may have seen this week we ticked off Volleyball. We've been attending training sessions with Tendring Volleyball Club since early April and one of the (many) great things to come from this relationship has been an introduction to Go Spike. Go Spike is an organisation designed to get adults into Volleyball and on a wet Tuesday in May I went to try out Beach Volleyball. Unfortunately, Sarah was holidaying in Paris (poor Sarah) and so with our good friend Clare for moral support I headed out to Crystal Palace. The facilities there are really cool - they have a whole room dedicated to practicing diving with trampolines and sponge crash mats... and they have outdoor, purpose built Volleyball courts. 
As soon as I arrived I was straight into action. I was given some expert tuition by Jake Sheaf and Chris Gregory - members of the GB team.

They were super-friendly and I think my basic knowledge made me look pretty good, sort of! We then moved onto the courts. It is much less easy to move around in the sand BUT you can throw yourself at the ball without worrying about getting hurt so I think I might prefer it to the indoor sport.

The event was topped off by my interview with Sportsister journalist, Lizzie Flint, which you can read over on our Press page.

12 May 2013

Spring Update!

Sarah: Spring has finally sprung and so has the 114OlympicGames 2013 offensive! We had a huge day in April, ticking off five events in one day, and have lots more in the pipeline at the moment. In the meantime, behind the scenes, we've been putting in the hours of training for some future events.

We've been to three sessions with Tendring Volleyball, and are starting to see some progress! Volleyball is a fantastic sport, and we've been made to feel so welcome at the club. The beach volleyball season starts at the end of May, so we can't wait to get stuck in to that too!

We went to a really great training session with Coggeshall Cougars Basketball Team in Braintree, and have been spending some time in the local park shooting hoops and getting some expert tips from Ellie's brother. We're gatecrashing another Basketball Club in the coming weeks and paying Colchester Jammers a visit, before hosting our own women's match in June! (we're currently recruiting players, so give us a shout if you'd like to get involved!).

Last Friday, we had our first ever encounter with fencing when we went along to Fighting Fit Fencing for a two hour introductory lesson. It was hot work in the safety gear, but we're looking forward to cracking on with the fencing events with a local club soon.

Guess the Fencer:


Our swimming events will continue in the coming weeks with more EARLY morning trips to Basildon's 50m pool planned (anyone want to build us a 50m pool in North Essex?!). On our next visit we've been offered our own lane during the club training, so expect some PB times (!).

In running news, Ellie has signed up for a 5K race in July, so I will complete my 5K event on the track around the same time. My legs are still aching from running the Colchester 10K with my boyfriend Greg this morning, but I'm really happy with my time, and can't wait to now move on to my half marathon training for the Great North Run in September.

Finally, we have some exciting press events on the horizon, so keep an eye out for those! And of course, we'll be posting some more completed events before the end of May!

9 April 2013

Name changes at Sarah and Ellie do the Olympics

After some investigation it appears we have underestimated our challenge. There are in fact, 114 events.

We have rearranged our list to reflect this - Synchronized Diving is in and Lightweight Skulls are out!

To reflect this, we've updated our Twitter name. We are now @114olympicgames - we would really like to get as many people following us as possible so tell all your friends!

7 March 2013

2013 vs Sarah and Ellie do the Olympics

Ellie: Yes, it is March. How have you been? We are fast approaching the quarter year mark and the observant of you will have noticed that not a lot is happening at Olympic Towers. In fact, we haven't ticked off a single event yet. Don't worry - we haven't given up and this won't be a pity-post; but I will now run you through the trials and tribulations of our year so far! But first, let me set the scene... 
It's 2012, two (not very sporty) women have become totally over-excited about the Olympics. Surprisingly, the novelty doesn't wear off and they decide to try their hand at each and every women's event from the Summer games before the Rio games in 2016 and (even more surprisingly) they finish the year on par with 10 events completed. They celebrate the New Year and spend early doors January planning, planning, planning and then, like the plot of a terrible sit-com, fate intervenes...
  • January and Snow. The ice and cold times prevented us from driving to Brentwood for Trampoline practice and to the outskirts of Colchester for our introduction to Shooting
  • It also brought flu. We were ill as were some of the instructors we had lined up
  • Later in the month we were left without a car and couldn't make it to the far flung places we'd planned to visit
  • We also booked in for some local events that didn't actually exist (which was weird)
  • In February, our working patterns were clashing like nobodies business
  • At the end of February I developed blood poisoning and was out of action for a couple of weeks meaning we had to cancel our introduction to fencing ...
So, two months have flashed by. They most certainly haven't been wasted though. We have been trampolining a few times and feel confident that our routines are almost perfect (!). We have begun swimming lessons with the wonderful Denise from Colchester Swimming Academy and that has been amazing. So far we've learnt freestyle, breast stroke, back crawl and started on some tumbling.

We also received beautifully written scorecards from our throwing events at Southend and have booked ourselves in for more events with them over the summer. We also get a mention on their website -

We have a voucher for some cheap fencing lessons and we've made contact with a leisure centre in Basildon which has a 50m pool. We've had our induction with the Colchester Rifle Association and will return soon for our first lesson. We've started out own Twitter account (@114olympicgames) and people are actually following us.

So we'll update again before too long - don't lose patience. Over and out! 

 7 January 2013

New Year Round-Up

Hello, and Happy New Year to you!

Well, we finished 2012 on target and are launching ourselves in to 2013. We now have only three and a half years to get through 103 events!

Lots has been going on behind the scenes at Olympic Challenge HQ; towards the end of last year we embarked on our trampolining quest and had nailed about three moves by the end of the first two hour session. We were also in contact with a local swimming club, and can’t wait to get the lessons underway in February; they have kindly agreed to show us the correct technique for the four strokes, aswell as the side-of-pool dives and under-water turns.

Over the coming weeks we’re looking forward to completing the trampolining (we need to complete a 10-move routine), and also taking our first ever tentative steps in to the world of shooting guns, and making our entrance on to the Volleyball court.

Along with a great deal of amazing Olympics memorabilia, we got nose clips and ear plugs for Christmas, so we can crack on and build on our Synchro Swimming practice. We only managed to hold our breath for around 25 seconds under water in 2012. The target is for about 2 minutes, so we have a long way to go! We’re also practicing staying as still as possible underwater- much harder than it sounds! 

 21 October 2012

Walk the World - Cultural Olympiad trail


Ellie: We braved the rain today to head out into Colchester and explore what cultural treasures we could find. Sarah and I have both lived in this area for most of our lives and I'd say we were quite savvy when it comes to the history but there were many gems that we certainly weren't aware of... Here we are with our map and audio guide. 

 We started with a 7th Century Abbot who gave his name, not only, to the St Botolph's region of our town but also to Boston in Lincolnshire and to Boston in Massachusetts, USA.

St Botolph's Church is Victorian and avoided massive damage during WWII when a bomb landed directly on top of it. The bomb hit a radiator and the escaping water extinquished the fire!  

Sarah is proudly showing our route map in front of St Botolph's Church above and below I am dwarfed by the ruins of St Botolph's Priory.

St Botolph's Priory was granted its charter in the around 1100 and was demolished when Henry VIII desolved the monestaries; it also suffered during the siege of Colchester in 1648. 

We found out about Boudica, Charles Gray MP (who received Colchester Castle as a wedding gift), Jumbo the massive elephant, Humpty Dumpty. One of the last hidden treasures is this little plaque that identifies the house of the Taylor sisters who wrote many nursery rhymes including Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star and lived close to the Town Hall.

*That there were non-sport Olympic events throughout the country is another reason why I was so fascinated by our Olympic Summer.
There are 20 other Walk the World walks available for download here. They explore the how the 206 competing Olympic nations have shaped the UK.

13 October 2012

October Round-Up

Ellie: We thought it would be nice to do a little summing up and tell you all the bits and pieces we have going on behind the scenes... we've made an excel spreadsheet (love those) and we should really justify it.

When this all began there was excitement, disbelief and questions about our mental health alongside dreams of exotic journalistic posts for Rio 2016 being created just for us. Now that the reality of what we have committed ourselves to has sunk in I, for one, am feeling a little daunted. However, the support we are getting from sporting groups in the Essex area is remarkable. We have now made positive contact with Trampolining Clubs, Athletic Clubs, a Boxing Academy and we have found a Synchronized Swimming Tutor who has access to a private pool!

We are gearing up for our cycling time trials by planning out routes. We are practicing holding our breath under water, learning to skull and seeking extravagant waterproof make-up (our first instructions from our SST). In the near future we are planning to take the Walk the World in Colchester tour. This is a Cultural Olympiad event set up during the Olympics to get you out and about in your region, discovering amazing things on your doorstep. Along with this we are also looking to visit as many golden postboxes as possible and are always thinking about the next ex-Olympic stadium we can visit.

13 August 2012

In The Beginning

Sarah: Much like the rest of the country, we have been completely gripped by Olympic fever the past couple of weeks. We've laughed, cried, screamed at the telly urging the amazing athletes on. Thankfully, we still have the Paralympics to look forward to in two weeks, but what will we do after they have finished?
And so a plan was hatched. Why don't we have a go at every women's Olympic event before Rio starts in 2016? That gives us four years to complete 109 events. That's only 27.25 events a year. Easy.

Ellie: Although my levels of cynicism have decreased massively in the last 2 weeks, I would like to point out that not once did I cry. That was just Sarah.

No comments:

Post a Comment