‘No tricks, just hard work’: Hero sportsman to talk in Portsmouth

No magic, no pills, just eye-wateringly hard work and a stubborn streak have helped elite athlete Josh Llewellyn-Jones defy doctors’ predictions he’d die before he was 30.

Picture of Josh Llewellyn-Jones in white t-shirt with arms folded.

Josh Llewellyn-Jones

The ultra-athlete, 31, was born with cystic fibrosis, a life limiting genetic lung condition that affects more than 10,000 people in the UK.

It’s one of the UK’s most common genetic life-threatening diseases.

The average life expectancy is 37.

Josh is giving a free public talk at the University of Portsmouth next week (Monday 25 February) about his passion to help others with cystic fibrosis fight the prognosis of dying young.

He will talk about how and why he dreams up extreme fitness challenges which have earned him a world record, a Pride of Britain award, and legions of fans and admirers.

He’s not driven to just raise money – he’s a firm believer in the power of exercise, especially for those with cystic fibrosis, and believes extreme sport has bought him extra time to live.

He also wanted to do something to help children with the condition to ‘meet’ virtually and support each other, because they’re not allowed to meet face-to-face in real life.

Josh said: “We are finally now starting to see exercise being pushed in adult cystic fibrosis centres, but I’m hoping to make this happen in children’s centres too.

“I’ve broken records and taken fitness to the extreme in spite of my condition and I want to encourage and inspire people, especially children living with this condition, that almost anything is possible if you want it enough.

“I don’t take any magic pills, I just work hard.”

Josh’s passion for fitness began when he started competing for Wales at cross country running as a schoolboy and he realised he had better than expected endurance.

“I’ve always wanted to push boundaries, both physically and mentally. When I started training for ‘World’s Fittest Man’ I was doing six to eight hours a day and noticed a big change in my fitness.”

Last year, Josh set himself the challenge to lift one million kilogrammes in 24 hours to raise money for research.

He succeeded, broke the world record for extreme weightlifting, has already seen off two challengers, and raised £80,000 for charity.

He said: “It wasn’t until I completed that last challenge that I felt like I’d earned my stripes in terms of being an ultra-athlete.”

Picture of Josh Llewellyn-Jones sat on a weight-lifting bench

Josh will talk about how and why he dreams up extreme fitness challenges which have earned him a world record, a Pride of Britain award, and legions of fans and admirers.

This January he announced his next challenge: He’ll swim to France, catch the ferry back to Dover, cycle to London, then run home to Cardiff.

The entire trip is 381 miles and he’s given himself five days without sleep in which to do it.

His two challenges combined have so far reached an audience of more than 15 million people worldwide via social media and a television documentary, which aired last year.

After raising more than £700,000 for cystic fibrosis charities, he set up CF Warriors in 2018 as part of his mission to help every child with the condition through sport and exercise. The forum also gives people with the condition somewhere to ‘meet’.

“People with cystic fibrosis pose a strong threat to each other’s health, so they’re not allowed to meet in person,” Josh said. “I wanted to do something to give kids a place to encourage each other to challenge their limits.”

Funds raised are also supporting research.

At Portsmouth, he’ll be working with Dr Zoe Saynor and colleagues within the University of Portsmouth’s Department of Sport and Exercise Science. Dr Saynor is an expert in exercise testing and training for people with life-limiting conditions, particularly cystic fibrosis.

Dr Saynor said: “Josh is incredibly inspirational and has done a great deal to raise money and awareness of cystic fibrosis. As well as letting me and colleagues work with him in the labs to better understand his physiology, we’re delighted he’s agreed to give a talk. I have the pleasure of working with colleagues, such as Dr Heather Massey and Dr Jo Corbett, who have prepared athletes for extreme endurance events and we are very excited to put Josh through his paces.”

To book to attend the free talk, visit: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/world-record-holder-ultra-athlete-and-cystic-fibrosis-tickets-56470272104?aff=eemailordconf&utm_campaign=order_confirm&utm_medium=email&ref=eemailordconf&utm_source=eb_email&utm_term=viewevent

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