Sports Editor’s Speech

Surrey Mirror Sports Editor’s Award

This is what Louise Poynton (sports editor Surrey Mirror) read about Steve before receiving the award from Judy Oaks OBE.

Evening everyone.I suspect most of you own a bike and cycle to school or work – one mile, five miles maybe 10 miles a day.Let’s say you do 10, so in a year you probably clock up around 2,000 miles.You’re no doubt quite proud of that.So, how about setting yourself a bigger challenge, move out of your comfort zone.Let’s go for a slightly longer, more testing, ride.How about coast to coast ——–across the United States of America! That’s a total of 3,000 miles from California on the west coast to the Atlantic ocean on the east. And just to make it a little more difficult let’s set a target of doing it in seven days.Anyone up for that? Our special award winner tonight was.It’s an exceptional story about an extraordinary athlete. Last summer he joined seven friends who, calling themselves the United8, took part in the Race Across America, an ultra marathon cycle race, regarded as the toughest in the world. This band of brothers rode 24 hours a day, round the clock, with limited sleep through the Arizona desert, across the heartland of America, round the Rocky Mountains, and across two mountain ranges which stack up a total climb of 108,000 feet – that’s four times the height of Everest!For some of that time our winner carried a throat infection but continued doing his part because he did not want to let the team down.And they did this marathon cycle ride in 6 days 13 hours 58 minutes They took on this serious mission to be competitive, but more importantly, to raise money for the CLIC Sergent children’s cancer charity. Their final figure was an outstanding £80,000. To get there it took nine months of exhausting, dedicated training, 200-300 miles of cycling a week, a 12 hour non stop ride round Richmond Park and a training ride from John O’Groats to Lands End. That’s a mere 870 miles. Our winner, a personal trainer in Reigate who is also a member at Redhill Cycling Club, was the man responsible for the team training schedule in that time and it was his encouragement, survival strategy and discovering how to go endless hours without sleep and still ride a bike at a good pace, that kept the legs turning. In his day job he works with people of all fitness levels from Britain’s top athletes to club competitors and helps people in the community return to a good fitness level after illness or injury. The Race Across America was an historic achievement, rooted in good old fashioned excellence, and our award recognises the unique contribution this man has made to British cycling, his work with charities, the inspiration he gives others and his high level of sportsmanship. He proves you do not always have to be a winner to be a true sporting hero

He hasn’t got quite so far to travel tonight to pick up his award, so please welcome onto the stage, it’s Steve Young