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Couple determined to complete challenge of taking part in every Olympic sport

By Claire Hayhurst, PA

A couple are determined to complete their challenge of taking part in every Olympic sport over the 17 days of the Tokyo Games to raise money for charity.

Charlotte Nichols and Stuart Bates believe they are the first to attempt the feat that will see them run, throw and jump their way through 96 sports.

They initially planned to raise £10,000 in memory of Mr Bates’ brother Spencer Bates, known as Spenny, a father of two who died aged 49 from motor neurone disease in 2011.

However, donations for their challenge – which they have dubbed the Spennylympics – have already reached more than £75,000.

Since July 23, Miss Nichols and Mr Bates have completed 60 of the Olympic sports including skateboarding, climbing, a 240km cycle, 10km swim and 40km race walk.

The couple, who live in Oxford, say they are “bruised, battered and covered in blisters”, but determined to finish.

Miss Nichols, 21, a medical student at the University of Bristol, said: “Sometimes you’re just hurting so much.

“There was a point on the cycle when we’d done 150km and we still had 90km to go. I was so exhausted I just didn’t know if I could do it. I just stopped and cried.”

It has not been a smooth ride through the events, with Mr Bates thrown from his horse during cross country and Miss Nichols having to be rescued while windsurfing due to a phobia of fish.

The couple are raising money for the Motor Neurone Disease Association, which helped Spencer Bates during the final years of his life.

They have received donations from more than 3,000 people across the world, including many who have lost family members to motor neurone disease.

Mr Bates, 51, a window cleaner, said: “It is so hard to watch someone you love living with motor neurone disease. It’s 10 years since Spencer passed but I still think about him every single day.

“We have been sent so many messages from people living with this disease or from their families.

“It gives us an awful lot of pride but also so much motivation. We woke up yesterday and our bodies were in pieces, but we read a few messages from these people and we got up, dusted ourselves off and got out.”

Dozens of sports clubs have offered the couple training and equipment, as well as coming to cheer them on during their challenge.

The University of Bristol has also provided free run of its sporting facilities and assistance from performance coaches.

Sarah Purdy, pro-vice chancellor for student experience at the university, said: “Charlotte and Stuart have the grit of Olympians and the hearts to match.

“It’s been amazing to watch their journey and with just a few days left to go of their challenge the whole university is rooting for them.”

The couple’s JustGiving page can be found at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/spennylympics

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