With less than one day to go to the start of his attempt to walk across Sri Lanka, England cricket legend Sir Ian Botham admitted that it is “the biggest challenge I have ever undertaken for charity.”
He said: “It’s going to be like nothing I have ever attempted before. It’s going to be arduous in the extreme, with fierce heat in challenging tropical conditions. We start tomorrow and go on until November 8. It’s a tough schedule to keep up, around 20 miles a day, but I am determined to do it. It is going to be very different to walking from John O’Groats to Land’s End in terms of the challenges and the terrain, but I know that the money we can raise will do so much good for young people in Sri Lanka, which is a country I love.”
Speaking at the press conference in Colombo on the eve of his great adventure, Laureus World Sports Academy Member Sir Ian also announced that legendary Indian batsman Sunil Gavaskar would be joining him on the walk.
Gavaskar set world records during his career for the most Test runs and most Test centuries scored by any batsman. He held the record of 34 Test centuries for almost two decades before it was broken by Sachin Tendulkar.
Since the mid-1980s, Sir Ian has taken part in a series of high profile walks, including John O’Groats to Land’s End in the United Kingdom, the 9 Valleys in Wales and the Hannibal Walk in the Alps, but he admits that his bid to walk across Sri Lanka from Kilinochchi in the north to Seenigama in the south is his most daunting yet.
In addition to Sunil Gavaskar, cricket has turned out in strength to support Beefy’s Big Sri Lanka Walk. Two of the greatest Australian cricket captains, Steve Waugh and Allan Border, are to join him, along with four great Indian and Sri Lankan cricketers - Sourav Ganguly, Mahela Jayawardene, Muttiah Muralitharan and Kumar Sangakarra. South African rugby legend and Laureus World Sports Academy Member Morné du Plessis is also flying in from Cape Town to join Sir Ian.
Sri Lanka’s Muttiah Muralitharan, cricket’s greatest spin bowler with a world record 800 Test wickets, said: “Sir Ian was one of the greatest cricketers to have played and he is putting as much passion and effort into his work for charity as he did on the cricket pitch. His commitment to helping young people in Sri Lanka has been immense and on behalf of my country I thank him most sincerely.”
Sir Ian added: “I am hoping to raise lots of money and awareness from the Big Beefy Sri Lanka Walk and I would like to thank Sunil, Murali and all the other great sportsmen who have committed themselves to joining me. I hope they will be able to keep up with me!”
Funds raised from Beefy’s Big Sri Lanka Walk will go to help sports-based community projects, including those operated by the Foundation of Goodness in Sri Lanka with the support of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation.
Beefy’s Big Sri Lanka Walk has been made possible by official Walk partners SriLankan Airlines and Sri Lanka Tourism and associate sponsors Global Rubber Industries (Pvt) Ltd and Lycamobile. Paradise Vacations UK are providing packages for those who wish to join Sir Ian on the Walk.
Those who wish to join the Walk for a day or more can sign up at www.beefysbigsrilankawalk.com or come to the Registration Desk at the start of each day to sign up and join the challenge.