‘It went beyond my expectations’ – Meet the Everyday Battlers running to overcome hardship

By Tom Holmes
September 24 2019, 16.45

It’s not very often that you’re the one inspiring Olympic athletes, but a group of Bridgestone’s Everyday Battlers did just that at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park on Saturday.

Everyday Battlers took a group of nine people who have suffered physical or emotional hardships and helped them overcome their obstacles and complete a 10km run.

Norman Rey Dacumos, 33, from New Cross Gate, applied for the scheme, which is part of Bridgestone’s Chase Your Dreams, No Matter What campaign, after his partner of almost ten years, Colin, was stabbed on the streets of London.

Norman said: “It went beyond my expectations. From the beginning, I wanted to gain my confidence back, and today helped me gain that back beyond what I expected.”

Norman worked with Olympians Chris Mears, who won diving gold at Rio in 2016, and Professor Greg Whyte, who is a sports scientist as well as a former Olympic Pentathlete, and both were truly in awe of not just Norman, but the whole Everyday Battlers group.

“It’s the ordinary to the extraordinary, which I think is truly inspiring,” Greg said.

“What’s great about these events is when you see family and friends, absolutely in awe of what these guys have achieved. And I think that that tells you everything you need to know.”

AWE STRUCK: Family and friends react to Norman’s achievement. © Sam Mellish Photo

“They probably don’t realise how much they’ve inspired me,” Chris added.

The most important thing for Norman was rebuilding the confidence that had been shattered in the wake of his personal tragedy, and in his own words, he wants to ‘chase a life without fear’.

But not just for himself, but for everyone who has suffered something similar to him. He wanted to “show the friends and family of people who have had this experience that we can put these things into a positive”.

Norman is not only an inspiring individual to those around him. He also achieved what he set out to do, finishing the run, and more importantly, got out of the experience the confidence that he was looking for.

He said: “Everything is falling into line, it’s like putting everything back into its proper place, like it’s getting even better from before. So because the year started really low, but coming to today I felt like oh my god everything is falling into place.”

Norman and Colin celebrate their ten-year anniversary this November, and Norman is happy to be able to end a year that started so badly for them on a high.

INSPIRING: Norman with his race number © Sam Mellish Photo

He’s also been able to translate the confidence that came with training into his professional life. Norman has a passion for floristry and is finally chasing his dream, having studied to become a florist whilst training for the run.

The whole event was a huge success, with all of the Everyday Battlers crossing the finish line, and above all else, the sense of teamwork and comradery was palatable.

“We share our experiences and training on a daily basis,” Norman said. “And that helps you get more motivated. Seeing the team who has finished first there at the finish line to cheer you on, it’s really a great experience and the atmosphere is amazing.”

“You’re creating a team environment,” Chris said. “I’m sure a lot of them will be friends after this and they’ll have made friends for life hopefully.”

Feature image © Sam Mellish Photo

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