Hundreds of runners enjoyed ideal conditions for the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park 5K and 10K on Saturday, with nine of them receiving mentoring in the build up from Olympian Chris Mears.
Campaign ambassador Chris Mears, an Olympic gold medallist in diving, can relate to those he has been mentoring since May as part of Bridgestone’s Everyday Battlers campaign.
In January 2009, doctors gave him a 5% survival rate after rupturing his spleen in training. He fought through it, returned to the sport and rose to the top. His career highlights included two Commonwealth gold medals and Olympic triumph with Jack Laugher in the synchronised 3m springboard event at Rio 2016.
Mears said: “If you do the hard work, put the time in, and you graft, you’ll get results. No one can push you to train to get an Olympic medal or Commonwealth medals – that’s on you.”
He said it was ‘a bit odd’ to return so close to the Aquatics Centre, a familiar venue for him in competition. He announced his retirement last month, and is now in ‘different position’ in his life since leaving.
He explained how ‘the room instantly connected’ when he met the Everyday Battlers for the first time. Health complications meant Mears was unable to run alongside the group, but he was actively involved in cheering them on as they came in to complete a lap or approach the finish line.
Mears feels that confidence can be transferred between fields. He has noticed how his diving career success has helped him as he becomes more involved in the music industry, after leaving professional sport.
Professor Greg Whyte, an exercise scientist with years of elite-level experience, saw the team progressively improve. “If you’d have asked these guys three months ago ‘Can you run 10K?’, most of them would have struggled to run a kilometre,” Whyte said.
He praised the hard work of those participating in the run after just four months of training. He said: “Dedication is the one thing you can’t build in people, but you can develop it.”
Whyte said his World Modern Pentathlon Championships silver medal in 1994 was ‘the end of an incredibly long process’. He said: “The feeling I had on that day will be exactly the same as the feeling these guys get today at the London 10K.”
The next professional challenge for Whyte is preparing for next year’s Sport Relief challenges. On a personal level, he completed a Norseman triathlon last month, which involved over 15 hours of intense physical activity in one of the world’s most difficult challenges.
A video is being produced to show the growth of those involved in the Everyday Battlers campaign from day one to event day. Chris Mears believes a lot of people will take something away from the finalised video, which the runners plan to reunite to watch together.
Feature image © Sam Mellish Photo.