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'Obese' Peter halfway there

Sports coach passes midway point in his 9,614km rowing challenge to improve his health

Jonathan Ashby

Jonathan Ashby


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Peter prepares for Tokyo challenge

TWO years ago, Peter Metalli challenged himself to row the 9,614 kilometres from his house in Woolton Hill to the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo before the start of the 2020 Olympic Games – on a rowing machine.

Last week, Mr Metalli reached a milestone as he passed the 4,807 kilometre mark – the halfway point.

The milestone has been a long time coming for the sports coach – who has self-titled the challenge as ‘ObeseManRowing’.

Before starting the challenge in July 2017, the 61-year-old weighed 145kg and had been steadily gaining weight after suffering a severe back injury in a triathlon in the 1980s.

Attempts to become a regular walker failed, before the sports coach found an old rowing machine gathering dust in the garage and decided he needed a challenge.

He came up with the ‘TokyRow’ idea and set himself the challenge to row the distance to the Olympic Stadium before the Olympic Games July 24, 2020, start date.

More than two years on, Mr Metalli said the attempt was saving his life.

He said: “I had suffered with a bad back for years after a triathlon injury, had elevated blood pressure and was stage 3 morbidly obese, so I really needed to do this for my health – both physically and mentally.

“I was also being treated for stress, anxiety and depression.

“This really was literally an attempt to save my life.”

The challenge has not been smooth sailing for Mr Metalli however.

While he has reached the halfway mark of the distance, he’s spent almost 75 per cent of his time.

After rowing the first half of the challenge in around 800 days, he now has just 296 to complete the second half.

Mr Metalli – who was an event director for nearly 400 triathlons, including the first UK triathlon in 1982 – said the challenge was doing him the world of good and hoped it would inspire others in his situation.

“Even if I don’t complete it, I am now in a much better state of health than before,” he said.

“I’m five kilos down on my starting weight, my blood-pressure is now in the ‘ideal’ range, for the past year I haven’t needed any medication for stress and depression and I also no longer get out of breath walking up stairs.

“I wanted this to be an inspiration to others who may also have gained a few pounds over the years.

“It’s a bit of a cliché, but I really did want to try and get the message out there that if I, as a class 3 morbidly obese man, can do this, then anyone can.”

Mr Metalli is also raising funds for four different charities; Mind UK, The Rowing Foundation, London Youth Rowing and Addaction.

His journey can be followed at, or on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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Article comments

  • brunin the bear

    04/11/2019 - 08:54

    Good luck Pete!


  • rachaele

    03/11/2019 - 15:40

    Pete, that’s over 10 miles a day on the rower. Is it doable?!? I’d love you to succeed!