MAN SMASHES LAND'S END TO JOHN O'GROATS WHEELCHAIR RECORD

MAN SMASHES LAND’S END TO JOHN O’GROATS WHEELCHAIR RECORD

An athlete has become the first man in history to travel from Land’s End to John O’Groats – in a wheelchair.

Anthony Gotts even smashed a world record on the grueling 900 mile journey – as he completed the task in just 20 days.

He beat the previous record set by electric wheelchair user Martyn Sibley in 30 days.

Manual wheelchair user Anthony, 32, was injured during a double decathlon event in Finland in 2007, where he suffered a broken pelvis, slipped disk and snapped leg muscles – leaving him unable to walk more than a few steps.

Anthony, of Helmshore, Lancs., who had been training to do the wheelchair challenge for two years, clocked up an impressive 45-miles a day during his journey.

And he said he kept his spirits up through the tough journey by reminding himself that he would prove people wrong who had doubted him if he completed it.

He said: “I quite enjoyed proving people wrong as a lot of people told me that I wouldn’t be able to do it. I got told that I would have to find a way round Shap, a very steep road in Cumbria, but I went straight up it.

“I was told that I wouldn’t be able to get fit to do the challenge by August. People told me that cycling 33 miles a day would be too much.

“I felt great as soon as I saw the John O’Groats sign and there was no chance of anything going wrong.

“When I had my injuries I suffered from depression quite badly because I had no contact with my friends. It was getting into sport that helped me turn my life around.”

Anthony, who works as an events organiser at Cannonball events, which organises running events, said the hardest part of the arduous challenge was on the second day – because his hands slipped on the wheel rims as when he was climbing up steep hills on Dartmoor.

But Anthony got through this tough leg of the journey by using grit and determination and reminding himself that there were easier sections ahead.

“I was just trying to grind it out, when I was climbing up the hill you know you know you are going to come back down again and can free wheel,” Anthony said.

Several of Anthony’s friends joined him for his journey, including Nick Barnes who completed the England leg of the journey.

And his beloved dog Bonnie joined him for the last half mile of his trip.

Anthony, who is single and has no children, said: “It was good to have her do the last bit – she is 12 so she couldn’t do much more than that.”

By completing the challenge, Anthony raised £2,440 for 53 Foundation, which creates active opportunities for people with disabilities, and is very close to his heart.

He said: “I wanted to help other people with disabilities and stop them having to go through what I went through.”

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    • Overseeing countless major stories that have spawned over a career more than three decades long, our editor Andrew became one of the UK’s youngest ever staff reporters when he landed a job on the Today newspaper during the mid-80s. With news in his veins and being the son of the great Daily Mirror journalist Syd Young, Andrew is now a director at news agency SWNS.

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