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Jessica Ennis-Hill – Rewire Hero of the Week

“I always believed. And when you do that, life can get unbelievable.”

Jessica Ennis-Hill

Jessica Ennis-Hill was born on 28th January 1986. With both her parents competing in youth athletics, she was destined to be introduced to the sport. She took to the sport straight away and joined her local athletics club aged 11. At 13, she was introduced to Toni Micheillo, who would go on to coach her through her career. 

Ennis-Hill had a highly successful junior career, establishing herself as one of Britain’s top up and coming athletes, taking the indoor pentathlon and outdoor 100m hurdles title at the 2003 AAA U20 Championships, and taking part in World, European and Commonwealth Youth Games.

Leading up the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Ennis-Hill had an injury that threatened her whole career. She broke bones in her right foot, forcing her out of the Olympics that year. However, with determination, she was able to return the next year to win gold in the heptathlon at the World Championships. Over the next few years she won two more World Titles and another European title, but what Ennis-Hill will be best remembered for is her gold at her home Olympics in London 2012.

In 2013, Ennis-Hill married, and a year later gave birth to a baby boy – Reggie. Just 15 months later Ennis-Hill was back at full fitness and competing for more titles, winning the heptathlon world title in Beijing. Then at Rio 2016, Ennis-Hill achieved a silver medal, finishing her career in the perfect way! Ennis-Hill has equalled Carolina Klüft’s record for World Championships won (3) and Jackie Joyner-Kersee’s record for Global Multievent Titles (5).

Jessica Ennis-Hill shows us that with determination anything is possible. In recognition of what she has achieved the Queen awarded Jessica a DBE (Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in 2017 for services to athletics. Jessica Ennis-Hill is our Rewire Hero of the Week.

“The only one who can tell you “you can’t win” is you and you don’t have to listen.”

Jessica Ennis-Hill

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“Jessica Ennis” by King…. is licensed with CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/ (Adapted to B&W)

Marcus Rashford – Rewire Hero of the Week

“I learn something new every game. Every game is always different, no matter how you try and think about it beforehand”.

Marcus Rashford

Marcus Rashford has achieved a lot for someone so young.  At the age of 23, he is a professional footballer and philanthropist who has earned widespread praise as a talented player on the pitch for both England and Manchester United, and for his work off the pitch as a passionate and effective campaigner for social justice and child food poverty.

Marcus Rashford was born on 31 October 1997 in Manchester, England, and was brought up by his working-class mother, a single parent who worked long hours in three different jobs to feed her five children. But that wasn’t enough and the family had to rely on free school meals, food banks, soup kitchens and the kind actions of neighbours and friends.

Life changed for Marcus at the age of 11 when his mother managed to persuade Manchester United’s academy to allow him to join its youth training programme a year early in order to make sure he was eating properly.  The programme provided food, accommodation and schooling close to the academy’s training facilities.

At the age of 18, Rashford scored a goal in his first team debut for Manchester United and, three months later, he became the youngest English footballer to score in his first senior international match.  In his short career, Rashford has made 162 appearances for Manchester United, scoring 51 goals and assisting in another 26, and earned 40 caps playing internationally for England, scoring a further 11 goals.  He has been compared by several pundits to Cristiano Ronaldo; indeed, Ronaldo himself said “Marcus Rashford reminds me of me”.

Off the pitch, Rashford has successfully leveraged his fame and social media, where he currently has 21.8m followers, to highlight social injustice by referencing his own experiences without anger or bitterness or attacking politicians.  He said “I don’t have the education of a politician … but I have a social education having lived through this and having spent time with the families and children most affected. These children matter … and as long as they don’t have a voice they will have mine”.  

In June 2020, he wrote an impassioned open letter to all UK Members of Parliament which resulted in the UK Government pledging £120m for a Covid-19 summer food fund for 1.3m pupils.  Later in the year, he persuaded the Government to extend the food programme to support vulnerable families which has resulted in an additional £170m fund. Marcus has also helped to raise £20m for FareShare, a charity that collects and distributes surplus food.

In recognition of what he has achieved the Queen awarded Marcus an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) in October 2020 for services to vulnerable children in the UK during Covid-19.

Marcus Rashford is our Rewire Hero of the Week.

“Only stay in competition with yourself … everyone’s journey is different”

Marcus Rashford

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Photo By Oleg Bkhambri (Voltmetro), CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons (Adapted to B&W)

Usain Bolt – Rewire Hero of the Week

“Learning the mind is as important as understanding the body.”

Usain Bolt

Usain Bolt has been dubbed the fastest man on earth and the greatest sprinter of all time. He was born on 21 August 1986 in Sherwood Content, a small town in Jamaica where his parents ran the local grocery store. As a child Bolt spent his time playing cricket and football in the street, later saying, “when I was young, I didn’t really think about anything other than sport”.  

As a schoolboy, his passion was playing cricket and, although he was fast, his height was a serious disadvantage to being a sprinter especially coming out of the blocks. As Bolt later said, “there are better starters than me, but I’m a strong finisher”. However, luckily a teacher spotted his talent and incentivised an unconvinced Bolt with a prize of a box lunch if he won the school sports day 100m race. It was an inspired incentive because according to Bolt a box lunch was “The Real Deal”.  He won the race and his journey to becoming the world’s fastest man had begun. 

Bolt suffers from scoliosis, a curvature of the spine that affects his hamstrings. It didn’t affect him much when he was young but as he grew the condition worsened and regular injuries started to prevent him from completing a full professional athletics season. Bolt turned professional in 2004 and approached the 2004 Athens Olympics with confidence. However, he was hampered by a leg injury and was eliminated in the first round of the 200m. Later Bolt said: “my spine’s really curved bad … in the early part of my career, when we didn’t really know much about [scoliosis], it really hampered me because I got injured every year”.  However, knowledge is power and by learning about the condition, and keeping his core and back strong, Bolt learned to control it to avoid injury.

Bolt said: “I’ve worked hard over the years, I’ve been injured and I’ve worked hard through it, and I’ve made it”. But hard work isn’t the only reason for his success because, as he acknowledges, “the mental aspect is very important and contributes to 50 per cent of my success”.

Before the age of 30, at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, Bolt had won 19 Olympic and World Championship gold medals in the 21 events he had entered, a staggering tally that makes him the greatest sprinter of all time. This included an unprecedented triple gold medal win in the 100m, 200m and 4 x 100m in three successive Olympics (Rio, London and Beijing), a feat that may well never be repeated. He has retired from professional sprinting but still holds the world record for the 100m and 200m.

His success has generated Bolt vast wealth from sponsorship deals but for over a decade he has used his celebrity and wealth to help disadvantaged young people. Early in his career, he established the Usain Bolt Foundation which aims to create opportunities through education and cultural development. The foundation has invested millions of dollars, particularly in Jamaica, into community development projects that enhance the health and education of the young people involved.

Usain Bolt is our Rewire Hero of the Week.

“The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in determination”

Usain Bolt

#RewireHeroes


Photo By Jmex60 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4586614 (Adapted to B&W)

Terry Fox – Rewire Hero of the Week

“I want to try the impossible to show it can be done.”

Terry Fox

Terry Fox was born in Winnipeg, Canada in 1958. Terry wasn’t a naturally gifted sportsman but at both school and university he was successful in sport as a result of determination and hard work. He believed that the key to his success was his mental toughness.

At the age of eighteen Terry discovered he had a malignant tumour in his right leg and the leg was amputated 15 centimetres above the knee. The night before his operation, his high school basketball coach brought him a running magazine which featured an article about an amputee, Dick Traum, who had run in the New York City Marathon.  Although his future was never more precarious, Terry dreamed that night about running across Canada. “I’m competitive,” Terry said. “I’m a dreamer. I like challenges. I don’t give up. When I decided to do it, I knew I was going to go all out. There was no in-between.”

His dream defied logic and common sense and evolved into the “Marathon of Hope” – a sponsored run across Canada to raise money to help fight cancer. 

Two years after his operation, Terry started a running program initially in the dark, so no one could see him. Terry trained for 15 months, running 3,159 miles, running until his stump was raw and bleeding, running every day for 101 days, until he could run 23 miles a day. He took one day off at Christmas, only because his mother asked him. Once, just before Christmas, when he had run only a half mile, the bottom half of his artificial leg snapped in two pieces, and Terry crashed to the pavement. He picked up the two parts, tucked them under his arm, stuck out his thumb and hitch-hiked home. There, he clamped the two parts together and ran another five miles.

Throughout his run and in the months before, Terry had neglected his medical appointments. No one could force him to see a doctor for a check-up. He said he didn’t believe the cancer would come back.  On April 12, 1980, Terry dipped his artificial leg into the Atlantic Ocean at St John’s, Newfoundland and began his Marathon of Hope. He ran through ice storms and summer heat, against bitter winds of such velocity he couldn’t move. Terry knew how to cope with pain – he would run through it and simply keep going until the pain went away. By September 1, 1980 Terry had run 3,339 miles through six Canadian provinces and was two-thirds of the way home. He’d run close to a marathon a day, for 143 days. No mean achievement for an able-bodied runner, an extraordinary feat for an amputee.

After running 18 miles on this day Terry started coughing and felt pain in his chest.  The pain did not stop and Terry asked to be taken to hospital where doctors told him the cancer had spread from his legs to his lungs.

Terry died aged 22 on June 28, 1981. Before he died donations to his Marathon of Hope reached $23.4 million and The Guinness Book of Records named him top fundraiser.

People haven’t forgotten Terry and every year millions of people participate in Terry Fox runs and fund raising events. In April 2020 the Terry Fox Foundation announced that over $800 million has been raised to support cancer research in his name.

“Anything is possible if you try” 

Terry Fox

#RewireHeroes


Photo Credits: “Terry Fox along North Park St” by Ross Dunn is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Bruce Lee – Rewire Hero of the Week

“The possession of anything begins in the mind”

Bruce Lee

Born in November 27th, 1940 in both the hour and the year of the Dragon, Bruce Lee (Chinese: 李小龍), was a Hong Kong American actor, director, martial artist, martial arts instructor and philosopher.

Bruce Lee is considered by commentators, critics, media, and other martial artists to be the most influential martial artist of all time. Lee broke tradition by mastering and then incorporating the best aspects of different disciplines to create a hybrid, formless type of martial arts that could adapt to any style called Jeet Kune Do.  Lee is often credited by many to be the “father of mixed martial arts” influencing both boxing and MMA legends such as Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard, Conor McGregor, and Jon Jones.

In film and popular culture, Bruce Lee changed the perception of eastern culture and philosophy in the western world and helped to elevate the martial arts genre in film and share the philosophy and teachings from Taoism, Jiddu Krishnamurti, and Buddhism.  During the course of his acting career, Bruce faced racism and prejudice being initially limited to starring in supporting roles like Kato in the Green Hornet and being turned down in leading roles like Kung Fu.  Ultimately, Lee’s determination to become the most popular martial artist and action star was realized right before his early death at the age of 32 on July 20, 1973. 

Lee’s success subsequently inspired a wave of Western martial arts films and television shows throughout the 1970s–1990s (launching the careers of Western martial arts stars such as Jean-Claude Van Damme, Steven Seagal and Chuck Norris), as well as the more integration of Asian martial arts into action films and television shows during the 1980s–2000s.

“Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one”

Bruce Lee

Lee’s achievements serve as a timeless inspiration of what can be accomplished through experimentation, perseverance and self-belief which is why Bruce Lee is our Rewire Hero of the Week.

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To learn more about Bruce Lee we highly recommend this biography

Bruce Lee: A Life by Matthew Polly

And this documentary film:

How Bruce Lee Changed the World