Harrogate man set for battle with Olympic hero

Tom Hawker pictured with his colleague and team mate Emma Al Tareif at Wembley Stadium (s)
Tom Hawker pictured with his colleague and team mate Emma Al Tareif at Wembley Stadium (s)

Harrogate’s Tom Hawker admits he is facing his toughest challenge yet as he prepares to do battle with double Olympic champion Dame Kelly Holmes in the mountains of Snowdonia.

The former Harrogate Grammar School pupil is preparing himself for three days hard graft in July after he was picked for the 2014 edition of the UK Challenge.

The UK Challenge is the nation’s leading corporate team building event with over 70 teams, including a squad of athletes from the Dame Kelly Holmes Legacy Trust, set to battle it out from July 3-6.

During the three days Tom will be tested both mentally and physically across a series of tasks all in a bid to raise money for charity and be crowned UK Challenge champions.

To add some spice to the event Holmes is competing again – a decade on from her 800m and 1500m Olympic double at Athens 2004 – and the 26-year-old cannot wait to test himself against her.

Tom said: “My boss said ‘do you want to do it, it’s three days of exercise, running, mountaineering, orienteering’ and it just sounded amazing.

“I’ve done a marathon before so I have at times been quite fit but maybe not at the moment.

“I think we might be lagging behind because some of the teams have got some really good athletes.

“We had a guy who has just left the army and was a captain but he had to drop out so I’m not sure we’ve got any aces up our sleeves.

“But it’s a fun thing to do as a team because it’s that sense of achieving something together regardless of the finish.”

Despite retiring in 2005, double Olympic champion Holmes has been keen to keep up her fitness levels and this year will be her third UK Challenge appearance.

The UK Challenge is the UK’s leading corporate team building event, providing companies from a variety of industries with an epic, adrenaline fuelled adventure and powerful business benefits.

To find out more, visit www.ukchallenge.co.uk