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3 June 2008 PR 08/73

Loughborough lends a hand to soap and sports stars for cycle challenge

Emmerdale star Kelvin Fletcher and former Motocross World Champion Jamie Dobb were at Loughborough University last week to prepare for an epic 1000 mile Cycle of Wishes charity bike ride which starts in just six days time.

Fletcher, who plays Andy Sugden in Emmerdale, and Dobb, who is the last Britain to win a motocross world title, are part of a six-man team cycling from just outside Barcelona to Donnington Park as part of a 10-day trek for children’s charity Make A Wish.

The pair and their team are being supported by Loughborough University who have provided sports science services to help them prepare for the once-in-a-lifetime challenge.

Loughborough postgraduate and part-time exercise physiologist Ben Hollis has been roped in for the cycle-ride, where he will provide additional sports science services to the team en route, including nutrition and massage.

After receiving initial tests at the start of the year, the cyclists were back in Loughborough last week to find out how much their gruelling preparations have improved their fitness and stamina in readiness for the 1000 mile journey.

Cycle of Wishes is the brainchild of former motocross champion Dobb, who retired from the sport in 2004. He was introduced to the Make A Wish charity in 2001 when he made a wish come true for young leukaemia sufferer Rhys Grundy.

“I’m really supportive of children’s charities and having seen the power of a wish I’m delighted to be doing something for Make A Wish,” said Dobb.

“I first trained at Loughborough 20 years ago and we came here for regular fitness tests, but things are a lot more high tech now. These tests are great to give us an idea of our progress and find out the level we should be working at. It’s really beneficial as every little helps and with Ben on our team we’re sure to see further progression during the event.

“We’re really grateful for the help from Loughborough and all of our partners. Without them this trip wouldn’t be possible.”

Actor Fletcher has overhauled his previous fitness regime to prepare for the ride and tries to fit cycle sessions around a busy filming schedule.

“It’s great to come to a facility like Loughborough and get an insight into how the professionals do it. The tests here have been physically gruelling,” he said. “I’ve not improved as much as I’d hoped but it’s been hard to fit training around my hectic work schedule.

“I’m quite sporty but I’m not an endurance athlete. I used to do a lot of weights and running so it’s been a big change to start cycling. It’s been nice to do something different and I’m looking forward to getting out there and getting the trip underway.”

Donations of over £8,500 have already been pledged to the Cycle of Wishes. For more information or to donate log onto http://www.cycleofwishes.com/

-ENDS-

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Notes for editors:

  1. Free of charge photographs are available from Amanda Overend.
  2. Make-A-Wish Foundation is the leading wish granting charity that grants magical wishes to children fighting life-threatening illnesses. Make-a-Wish is currently celebrating its 21st anniversary year. Since 1986 the charity has granted over 4,800 wishes and aims to grant its 5,000th wish by the end of this year. http://www.make-a-wish.org.uk
  3. Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for excellence in teaching and research, strong links with industry and unrivalled sporting achievement.

    It is a member of the esteemed 1994 Group – a set of internationally recognised, research intensive universities – and has a reputation for the relevance of its work. Its degree programmes are highly regarded by professional institutions and businesses, and its graduates are consistently targeted by the UK’s top recruiters.

    Loughborough is also the UK’s premier university for sport. It has perhaps the best integrated sports development environment in the world and is home to some of the country’s leading coaches, sports scientists and support staff. It also has the country’s largest concentration of world-class training facilities across a wide range of sports.

    In the 2007 National Student Survey, the University was voted fourth in the UK, with 23 out of 29 of Loughborough’s subject areas being ranked in the top ten for overall satisfaction. Loughborough is also ranked in the top fifteen of UK universities in national league tables. It was named winner of the 2006 and 2007 Times Higher award for the UK’s Best Student Experience and winner of the 2007 award for Outstanding Support for Overseas Students. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, the University has been awarded six Queen's Anniversary Prizes – an achievement bettered by no other university.

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