When Leigh on Sea’s Boris Wozstock decided to get fit, it started a chain of events that has seen him embark on a unique Olympic Challenge

With the London 2012 Olympics only 12 months away, interest in the games is beginning to hit fever pitch.  But there is one Essex man who deserves a medal before the first event even starts.

Boris Wozstock, 34, from Leigh on Sea has been dubbed The Everyman Olympian.  Like many of us, Boris observes the athletes preparing for the Olympic games with awe and admiration, tempered with the knowledge that competing in the Olympics could never become a reality for him.  But Boris was so determined to become a part of the Olympic experience that he took up a unique challenge that wasn’t limited by talent and could be achieved with sufficient drive, ambition and imagination.

Unique challenge

Boris has set himself the target of participating in every single one of the Olympic 2012 sports before the opening ceremony in London next July.

It all began as a simple effort to lose weight and get fit.  “I was in a hotel room in Dublin,” explains Boris. “I was hung-over and the cheap polyester sheets had made me hot and sweaty.  I looked in the bathroom mirror and was not best pleased with what I saw.  I decided to sort myself out.

“I decided to start to exercise, but I’m often away and can’t do things consistently, so it’s difficult to be structured and disciplined.  I decided changing sports would be perfect, so the idea started to compete in 12 sports in 12 months.  Then I would get fit and lose weight off the back of it.”

However, somewhere around the weightlifting challenge, with offers of help coming in and Boris’s achievements building up their own momentum, 12 sports became 26, which translated into 38 different events.  This means that he has to complete two sports every month to meet the deadline, making managing time as much of a challenge as completing the sports themselves.

But Boris has already come a long way from the reflection he saw in that bathroom mirror in Dublin.

“I am already so much fitter now than I ever was,” says Boris.  “Before I would go to sleep or watch television instead of training.  Now I roll out of bed and wake up as I run.”

As Boris tackles events he would never even have considered trying a few months ago, doubts inevitably creep in.

“I do have a bit of doubt and trepidation with a few.  I’ve never really done anything combat wise, so when judo was coming up, that was really on my mind.  I have the diving to do,” he continues,” and people are saying you must be so fearful of the fall.  The fall takes care of itself – the water’s going to be there anyway.  It’s only really technique I’ve got to worry about, so when you break it down it becomes manageable.”

Help is at hand

Sports completed so far include rowing, badminton, running, weightlifting, cycling, tennis, canoeing, judo and swimming.  To help him on his way he has had help and encouragement not only from friends, but also Olympic athletes.  Training him for the shooting events is the captain of the Welsh national team and Boris has also had a lot of help via email from Canvey Island decathlete Dean Macey, who won a gold medal at the 2006 Commonwealth Games and was fourth in the Beijing Olympics.  Support has also come from 400metre medal winner Iwan Thomas and Derek Redmond and former javelin world record holter, Steve Backley.

Looking ahead, Boris is searching for help with his other events, particularly someone to help him with dressage.

“Learning to ride a horse is not going to be done in a month.  Then I’ve got to jump with it and dance with it! Some events bring other challenges.  Running around in Lycra for gymnastics for example.  I’m going to look like Peter Kay or something.”

Much more to do

Then there are the team events, for which he needs coaching and competitors, such as hockey, basketball, volleyball and handball.

The whole experience, still with some months to go, has already changed his perceptions and opinions of sport.

“I would love to go to the Olympics,” explains Boris, “but I no longer have favourite events.  There are events I now see differently, like shooting, for example.  I wouldn’t have given it a second glance in the past, but now I know people who do it I’m really interested.  I look at sports people differently now.  From when they wake up, everything is programmed and focused on their sport and their dedication is amazing.  They can’t just pull the curtains closed on Sunday mornings and stay in bed.”

And from waking up one morning a little worse for wear in Dublin and embarking on an unexpectedly life-changing challenge, Essex’s Everyman Olympian has embraced that Olympic spirit himself. Because he no longer can or wants to pull the curtains closed on a Sunday morning either.  There is too much training and too many sport to conquer.

Follow Boris on Twitter: @EveryOlympian

From Essex Life Magazine  August 2011 edition (words only)