The Starr Trust: Greater Brighton charity’s founder battles illness to support rising Worthing wheelchair tennis star with 52 x 52 Triathlon Challenge for 2022

The founder of The Starr Trust has committed to completing an Olympic triathlon every week during 2022 to help a rising Worthing wheelchair tennis player reach the Paralympics and other young people be the best they can be.

Thursday, 6th January 2022, 5:13 pm
Updated Thursday, 6th January 2022, 5:36 pm

Rob Starr, 52, says the challenge will be the toughest one he has taken on yet for the Hove-based charity, largely due to its longevity. He has Crohn’s disease, arthritis and osteoporosis but is determined he will not stop until his 52 x 52 Triathlon Challenge 2022 is completed.

The challenge was inspired by Worthing wheelchair tennis player Nathan Freeman, one of the ‘Starrs’ the charity has been supporting for a number of years as a champion wheelchair racer.

But 18 months ago, Nathan, who has cerebral palsy, was given the devastating news he would have to give up wheelchair racing due to damage to his hip, the result of an accident during a world championship.

Rob Starr will be running 52 triathlons in 52 weeks and will be supported by gold Olympian Robin Cousins and double gold Olympian Daley Thompson in his bid to raise £100,000 for The Starr Trust

Rather than stop altogether, Nathan switched to wheelchair tennis and ended 2021 with his first tournament win, at the LTA Wheelchair National Finals.

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Now, he needs to raise around £20,000 to enable him to reach the Paralympics. The Starr Trust is awarding its maximum funding of £5,000 and Rob has pledged to raise the other £15,000 himself.

Rob said: “After my Ironman last year, I said I was done with physical challenges, but I was so moved by Nathan’s story to get to the next Paralympics that I just felt I had to step up and help him raise the money needed.

Nathan Freeman from Worthing with Fred Dinenage in October 2017, when he won one of the Herald and Gazette Community Star awards. Picture: Derek Martin DM17102397a

“Also with a lack of fundraising events for The Starr Trust in the last 18 months, we are really needing financial support to enable us to help as many young people as we can in 2022 and beyond.”

Rob will take on 52 triathlons in 52 weeks and will be supported by gold Olympian Robin Cousins and double gold Olympian Daley Thompson in his bid to raise £100,000 in total for the charity’s young people.

Mr Starr said: “I am equally excited and nervous to take on such a big challenge but the young people our charity support need our help and as founder of the charity I feel it’s down to me to lead from the front.

“My biggest challenge will be keeping injury free and mentally strong enough to do this week after week for a full year, which is not always easy with my illness to contend with and life being as unpredictable as it currently is.

“But with the support I have around me, I have no doubt I will complete this and raise enough money to remove as many roadblocks as we can for young people – 2022 is shaping up to be a rather exhausting year.”

The Olympic triathlon is a continuous event involving a 1.5k swim, followed by a 40k bike ride, then a 10k run. Each one normally takes Rob three to four hours to complete, meaning he will take around 200 hours complete the challenge and will swim 78k, cycle 2,080k and run 520k.

Rob has completed a number of extreme challenges for the charity over the years, like swimming the English Channel, cycling up Le Mont Ventoux and completing a full Ironman. But this challenge will be the toughest yet, as it lasts a whole year.

Nathan said: “I can’t believe Rob is going to do this for me, it’s amazing, I don’t know how he does it. Rob and The Starr Trust have been supporting me for years and they just make me feel I can achieve anything.

“They are such a big part of my family and are literally making this dream possible for me.”

The Hove-based charity, now in its 15th year, raises funds to help young people in the area be the best they can be and help remove any roadblocks they face in life.

All the money raised will be given out to young people because the charity has all its running costs covered by Rob’s company, SEICO Group.

Rob completed his first Triathlon on Sunday and will continue with a triathlon every week throughout the year.

A weekly blog will document Rob’s progress to inspire businesses and individuals to get involved and show support. Overall, he hopes to raise £100,000 to support Nathan fully and as many new applicants as possible. Visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/52x52triathlonchallenge for more information and to make a donation.