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Mel Marshals Olympic Team 4 Charity Cycle

May 30, 2012  - Craig Lord

The rush of London 2012 done, rest may well top the list of "what next" on the life menus of swimmers and coaches involved in it all but many end up having to wait weeks, if not months, to get to a place of reflection. 

Back in 2008, Michael Phelps went on a tour of demands after his sensational eight-golds achievement that lasted until November that year, coach Bob Bowman reminded me this week. It was what he had to do - some of it great fun, of course, but also a sort of royal city as the king of swimming, if you like. 

Phelps can be found sharing some memories of ending his Olympic days where it all began as he gets ready for US trials next month. If one child learns to swim, if another is saved from drowning, all to the good, while the ripples from the Baltimore success story and the promotion of the swimming cause will go much further for many a long year.

Fun and duty takes many a form and fellow humans who are not so fortunate are what some Brits have in mind as the London 2012 dust settles - thanks to Mel Marshall's powers of persuasion. 

A former Olympic swimmer whose treasury includes a medal of each colour from European Championships and five silvers and a bronze at Commonwealth Games, Marshall is now 30 and coachinng in Derby, England.

She had a plan for some of her former teammates too. You can imagine the conversation starting something like  … "you know after the Games, when you're a bit bored … how about we do a 450km cycle ride across Zambia for charity … come on, it'll help keep the fat off".

So Ross Davenport, former Commonwealth champ and Olympic and world-champs medallists Rebecca Adlington and Joanne Jackson, will be doing just that come the autumn. Their target - £50,000 for Sport in Action, an organisation that tackles issues such as low life expectancy, AIDs education and domestic violence in developing countries - but you can help them get that figure way higher with a donation of your own … every penny helps.  You can also text 70070 and enter TPDF50 with an amount.

The £50k will go towards a physiotherapy unit at a treatment centre in Zambia. Says Marshall explains to a Derby paper today how sport and social change go hand in hand: "I want the hospital to be a place where people can go to receive treatment for their Aids and HIV but for people to also go when they have sports injuries to take away the stigma of the diseases. 

"Sport is massive out in Zambia and for it to have somewhere for people to go for treatment and where sport can be encouraged is very important for the development of the society out there. We want to nurture it and do what we can to encourage children to play sport and be involved in the community. It will give them hope."

In Lusaka the Brits will give swimming lessons at a pool that has been renovated with £13,000 raised at a charity ball by Marshall.

Meanwhile, Davenport, 28, tells the paper how he ended up preparing for a challenging life after London 2012: "Mel is very difficult to say 'no' to and she's very passionate about the cause and helping save people's lives. The money we raise will go towards helping people who have a very low life expectancy just because of where they were born and it just shows that life is not fair sometimes. I can't wait to start my cycling training."

Marshall is a wheel ahead at this point: "We're going out to Zambia in October, which is in the country's dry season, just before their summer, so it's going to be about 40C. I've started my training now and have clocked up about 60km in the last week, but for the other guys, cycling training has to come second after their Olympic commitments."