He has climbed highest mountains...
He completed his world record challenge of conquering 7 Summits, 3 Poles in 7 Months in 6 months, 11 days, 07 hours and 53 minutes.
Yesterday morning Richard reached the summit of Mount Elbrus, the highest mountain in Europe, completing the final leg of his 737 Challenge. It was the last of the famous 7 summits conquered, he reached the peak at 11.53am local time, 08.53 UK time.
Richard, who is aiming to raise £1m in aid of Marie Curie Cancer Care spoke from the top of the summit of Elbrus. “It hasn’t sunken in yet, I am sure when I am back home and I have got the team around me I guess it will sink in then. My energy levels went from a quarter of a tank to pretty much bone dry, the final hour of the summit climb I had to dig pretty deep, my legs were quite tired and mentally it was quite tough”.
Those that have been following the challenge over the rollercoaster 7 months have seen Richard face a host of dramas along the way, from discovering he had contracted frostbite after summiting Everest to cheating death on Denali after falling down a crevasse, to fuel strikes and delays in Antarctica. It’s been the ultimate test of nerve and one of the most physically demanding challenges anyone could undertake, all played out in the most hostile conditions on the planet.
“I had every confidence that I would be able to do it from day 1, however some of the hurdles and dramas that we have had over the last 7 months, I’d be lying if I said I haven’t had my doubts. Physically my body has just about held up, I am not sure I have another mountain in me for a couple of months!”.
Richard enters the history books today after living and breathing the challenge for over 2 years since he was forced to retire from professional rugby in May 2009. He used every penny of his career savings to fund his training, moved back home with his parents and devoted his life to preparing for the gruelling challenge and fundraising for Marie Curie Cancer Care.
For Richard the 737 Challenge has become more than he could have ever imagined; “I feel incredibly privileged to have experienced the last 7 months. To stand on the top of the world’s highest mountains and see some of the most beautiful places on earth - I am just so grateful to so many people who have made the 737 Challenge possible for me, from the challenge team, to the sponsors to my parents to everyone who has made this a reality and to everyone for following and supporting my challenge”.
Finally he added; “My friends, family and parents have been absolute rocks throughout this journey for me, from my forced retirement in rugby to this challenge, I know I have put everyone through the ringer, I am just grateful to have done it, hopefully now I’ll get back in one piece safe and sound and be able to share it with everyone”.
From the depths of despair to standing on top of the world, to inspiring others to help make a difference to people’s lives affected by cancer. Today Richard Parks made history and proved that the horizon is only the limit of our sight.
IRB Junior Player of the Year short-list
The nominees were selected following the recent record-breaking IRB Junior World Championship held in Italy, the most competitive edition of the Under 20 tournament to date.
Winners New Zealand have Sam Cane and Luke Whitelock in the shortlist, while runners-up England, who pushed the champions all the way in a scintillating final in Padova, are represented by fly half George Ford.
The shortlist represents the voting of team head coaches and match officials, as well as international and local media at the tournament.
IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: “These three players excelled in Italy and they reflect the exciting talent that was on show in a tournament which continues to go from strength to strength. The quality of rugby played in Italy shows the important role this tournament plays in developing the future stars of the world Game.”
The winner will be announced at the IRB Awards in association with Emirates Airline in Auckland on October 24.
Sam Cane (New Zealand)
A member of New Zealand’s impressive and hard-working loose forward trio in Italy, Sam Cane was the first player to score a hat-trick at Junior World Championship 2011 with his efforts in the Baby Blacks’ 92-0 rout of Wales in round two. One of a handful of players in the New Zealand Under 20 squad with any Super Rugby experience, the Waikato Chiefs flanker’s potential was recognised early and saw him become the first schoolboy to be nominated for the national age grade player of the year accolade back in 2009.
George Ford (England)
The youngest player in the tournament, George Ford’s skills and vision belie his tender age of 18 years and three months. Described as a “very mature player” and someone who “sets the tone in the squad” by England Under 20 coach Rob Hunter, Ford always seems to have options and more often than not takes the right one. The youngest player ever to play a professional match in England, the Leicester Tigers teenager played a key role in England’s run to the final and scored 51 points in the tournament.
Luke Whitelock (New Zealand)
A true leader on and off the pitch and always ready to put his body on the line for the team, Luke Whitelock lifted the distinctive trophy in Padova after guiding New Zealand to a fourth successive title. One of a very select few to have two winners’ medals to his name, Whitelock is a danger at both flanker and number 8 with his work rate and game sense. The youngest of four rugby playing brothers, two of whom are already All Blacks, Luke has the potential to be the best of the lot.
2010 - IRB Junior Player of the Year: Julian Savea (New Zealand)
2009 - IRB Junior Player of the Year: Aaron Cruden (New Zealand)
2008 - IRB Junior Player of the Year: Luke Braid (New Zealand)
2007 - IRB International U19 Player of the Year: Robert Fruean (New Zealand)
2006 - IRB International U19 Player of the Year: Josh Holmes (Australia)
2006 - IRB International U21 Player of the Year: Lionel Beauxis (France)
2005 - IRB International U19 Player of the Year: Isaia Toeava (New Zealand)
2005 - IRB International U21 Player of the Year: Tatafu Polota-Nau (Australia)
2004 - IRB International U19 Player of the Year: Jeremy Thrush (New Zealand)
2004 - IRB International U21 Player of the Year in association with Waterford Crystal: Jerome Kaino (New Zealand)
2003 - IRB U19 Player of the Year: Jean Baptiste Payras (France)
2003 - IRB U21 Player of the Year in assoc. with Waterford Crystal: Ben Atiga (New Zealand)
2002 - IRB U19 Player of the Year: Luke McAlister (New Zealand)
2002 - IRB U21 Player of the Year, in assoc. with Waterford: Pat Barnard (South Africa)
2001 - IRB Young Player of the Year: Gavin Henson (Wales)