A WOOLTON Hill man has started the ‘Tokyrow’ challenge this week in a bid to lose weight and raise money for various charities.
Peter Metalli, aged 59, weighs 145kg (23 stone) and will row the equivalent of the 5,974 miles from his home in Woolton Hill to the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo before the 2020 Olympic Games begin, on a Concept 2 rowing machine.
To complete the challenge, Mr Metalli will have to row nearly 5.5 miles every day for three years.
He said: “I do have to be realistic about this and I know I will get injured or catch flu or colds and will have to take the odd day off here and there, so the actual average will be more like 11 or 12 kilometres – just under seven miles – a day, but I am determined to do this.
“Not only do I need to do this for my health – this is literally an attempt to save my life.
“I am 60 next year and already getting aches and pains and I am well aware of the health implications if I don’t take drastic action, but I also want to prove to myself that I can do this.”
Mr Metalli’s weight gain was gradual following a back injury in the 1980s when he was competing in a triathlon.
Despite the injury, he went on to become events director at nearly 400 triathlons, duathlons, half-marathons and other running events, as well as coaching thousands of others in swimming, cycling, running, triathlon and rowing.
He said: “It just sort of happened gradually and as it was only about half a stone a year, I didn’t really think too seriously about it.
“Of course I was aware I was buying a larger size each time I bought a new pair of jeans, but the business of organising sport for others, coupled with the ongoing back injury, meant I just did not have the time to think about it.”
However, he is not participating in the challenge simply to lose weight.
He added: “I would also like this to be an inspiration to others out there who may also have gained a few pounds over the years. If I, as a class 3 morbidly obese man, can do this, then so can you.”
Additionally, he is hoping that he may be able to raise funds for charities including Addaction, Mind, London Youth Rowing and
The Rowing Foundation and plans to make some public appearances at various events and venues during the next three years.
He said: “The fundraising is just a small part of it, but if I can do this and my actions can help one other person sort themselves out, then it will be worth it.
“Even if people come and watch just to see the fat bloke get red-faced on a rowing machine, if it adds 50p to the total I’ll be happy.”