This Girl Can: 50 Sports in 2015 Challenge

Georgina and Joanna celebrated turning 50 with a unique challenge: trying 50 different sports in 2015. Georgina recaps their year of Rowing, White Water Rafting and Rhythmic Gymnastics.

When your best friend says “I have a challenge for our 50th birthday, are you in?” there is only one answer. So 50 sports in a year quickly became a reality in 2015. We both work, have teenage children and play Hockey every winter weekend. But with a bit of careful planning, we made sure we made the time.

We wrote an initial list of 60 sports and began on a cold, bright January day at The Wimbledon Club. Table Tennis was the first one, with Tennis and Squash to follow. Three down, 47 to go….

Water sports probably provided the most adrenaline, especially White Water Rafting. The Olympic White Water Rafting venue was a fantastic day out. Not only the rafting we did ourselves — some fantastic instruction meant we certainly tested our nerve — but we got to watch the GB canoeist training in the afternoon too.

Time to include our husbands. Badminton, Darts and Skittles proved to be female winning sports! So far nothing was too testing so we decided on Rock Climbing next. Heights are not something I enjoy but some patient instructing saw me at the top of the wall. Joanna scrambled up the wall with ease, much more of a natural at this one.

We paddle boarded and surfed in inclement weather in Cornwall and kayaked on a beautiful day in Windsor. Swimming at 6am in the dark at Hampton Lido in October was worth the alarm call and rowing on the Thames required some persistence and more instruction!

We have done heat too — Bikram Yoga and Fencing on the hottest day of the year brought us out in the biggest sweat.

It has been a family affair: Joanna’s brother took us out to play Cross Country Croquet on the South Devon coast path, an excellent idea for any reluctant family walkers, and my brother took us to the Tennis courts at Queens Club in London. My youngest daughter has provided me with my comedy moment — a tandem ride in Padstow — and she was also the videographer for our attempt at Rhythmic Gymnastics and the Maori stick game Ti Rakau.

Sport No. 49 was particularly special for us. We asked for suggestions and an ex-Wimbledon Hockey player who has been battling cancer for some time came up with Curling — so off we went to Tonbridge with five other Hockey players to slip and slide our way down the curling lane.

Sport No. 50 we decided very early on was to be a Dodgeball tournament to include as many people as possible, mainly those who have participated in our challenge. So ten teams gathered in Whitechapel at Play On Sports, a fantastic sport and community facility, to battle it out. Sadly it was not the fairy tale ending, Dodgeball proved to be one of our weaker talents. But the beauty of the evening was that we had an age range of 14–56 battling it out on the court, a fantastic evening to end our year on.

For me speed and heights were not something I relish but sometimes you just have to put your faith in the experts and believe that you can do it. I never imagined I would be hanging off the side of a sailing boat on nothing more than a wire that I had attached myself, but overcoming that fear was worth it when you get the wind and spray rushing across your face!

I have already had one friend contact me to say she has been inspired by our pictures and is going to set about the challenge of 50 sports for her 50th birthday.

The only bit of advice I gave her was to do it with a friend. You need someone alongside you who says “Of course you can!” And when one of you feels a bit overwhelmed the other one will pull you both along.

Give it a go, it has been a fantastic experience! These girls can, and did.

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