The Toughest Competition of All

October 27, 2020

How hard can it be when your only competition is yourself? For Kingsley Ijomah, that’s the toughest competition there is. But after a week of physical tests and gruelling training Kingsley topped it off by beating another world record!

Since contracting Polio as a child Kingsley not only had to learn to walk and use his legs again, but even how to sit. “Some muscles are still not 100% where they should be so I really have to work on them. Rowing is especially demanding on your core so its crucial I really build these muscles up” says Kingsley. After an exhaustive day of strength and conditioning tests where every activity is completed to the point of failure Kingsley, despite the complete physical and mental exhaustion, is happy with the results. “I enjoy this process, it’s the only way to measure progress and I’m happy with the numbers today, I pushed myself as far as I could go. Kingsley completed 48 crunches in 1 minute and 3 reps of 73kg as well as multiple other strength exercises. With each exercise Kingsley has to continue until he physically cannot go on, then this time or weight or rep is recorded.

I enjoy this process, it’s the only way to measure progress and I’m happy with the numbers today, I pushed myself as far as I could go."

While the training is working on building his strength and stamina for Tokyo 2021, Kingsley currently has a more imminent goal in his sights, one of the most prestigious events in the rowing calendar, Henley Regatta on 7th November.  The highlight of the rowing calendar (usually)sees competitors from around the word competing, 63 boats alone will be participating from Marlow, Kingsley’s rowing club.  But what is especially important for Kingsley is that he is able to make history as the first adaptive rower formally competing at the event. “I’ll be rowing against myself as there are no other para rowers this year. I hope to set a time that future para rowers can try to beat and prove that Henley can play host to adaptive rowing.”

 "I hope to set a time that future para rowers can try to beat and prove that Henley can play host to adaptive rowing.”

Despite there not being any spectators this year, Kingsley is ready for Henley, his recent time trial completed on 25th October saw him smash the 3.3k world record, “All (para and able bodied rowers) raced against world best times, and ranked based on who got closest to world record, I won the event, by hitting a 106% of world record, beating the world record for 3.3km in my category.” A fantastic achievement for Kingsley and proof those gruelling strength and conditioning workouts are paying off!

"I won the event, by hitting a 106% of world record, beating the world record for3.3km in my category."

So as Kingsley gets set to create history at Henley competing against himself, would racing alone to get the first adaptive rowing time mean it’s any less of a competition than if Kingsley were rowing against physical competitors? Not at all, because for Kingsley is toughest competition always has and always will be himself.

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