Just like the Winter Olympians, it’s never too late to be who you could have been

it's not too late to live the dream

it's not too late to live the dream - Credit: Archant

One of sport's most compelling characteristics is the opportunity it affords fans and spectators to gaze in awe at the extraordinary exploits and athletic prowess of people like Mo Farah, Laura Trott, Jason Kenny, Helen Glover and a host of others.

This column is brought to you in association with Almary Green. Photo: Almary Green

This column is brought to you in association with Almary Green. Photo: Almary Green - Credit: Archant

What, we wonder, drives these people to such incredible heights, to smash world records, to become so engrossed in their sport that that is their sole focus?

Most of us live what might be called more cluttered lives, constantly juggling family or work commitments, mindful of the mortgage, rent, or that larger-than-anticipated electricity bill. Hemmed in by our daily routine, there's very little opportunity to drop everything and become a world champion. Indeed, our admiration is probably reinforced by the certain knowledge that we could never emulate elite sportsmen and women.

But every so often, our admiration for unexpected sporting achievement motivates us to try and copy it, which is why Four Mums in a Boat is such an inspirational read.

The story of four women in their 40s and 50s, who went from meeting at their local rowing club each Saturday morning to get some exercise, a laugh and a gossip, to rowing the Atlantic in record time offers a different form of sporting (and life) inspiration.

None of the four ladies were, by their own admission, natural athletes, but goodness, they're determined. Their individual will to succeed is reinforced by being part of a team and an absolute determination not to let their team-mates down.

Many of us, fuelled by too much red wine, have occasionally considered doing something crazy, only for the notion to evaporate in the time it takes for the following day's hangover to disappear. Not this quartet. While the suggestion that four working mums could row 3,000 miles across the Atlantic must have sounded a little unhinged, it's clear that all four immediately embraced it.

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Four Mums is a life-affirming read of ordinary people committing to and then embarking on a crazy adventure, 'not to escape life, but for life not to escape them.' Wouldn't it be great to emulate them?

I don't necessarily mean rowing the Atlantic (though my admiration for your efforts would be unbounded if you did) but targeting and achieving another goal in life. Whatever our age, most of us harbour some form of deep-rooted ambition, from learning the piano, writing that novel, climbing Snowdon, starting your own business, emigrating to Australia and a million other things besides.

However, it's one of life's truisms that if you don't take action to satisfy your ambitions, no-one will do it for you. More often than not, an achievement's first phase is accumulating enough cash to get started.

British bobsleigh star Toby Olubi, in action at the Olympics last week, offers oodles of inspiration on this front. Even though he's an Olympian, the former teacher receives only a nominal salary so he must meet most of his own costs, including travel and accommodation. The resourceful 31-year-old came up with a novel way of generating the necessary moolah: he became a game show contestant on both The Cube, where he initially banked £10,000 but lost it when he failed one task, and then on Deal or No Deal where he walked away with £12,000. You can't help but admire the guy. I hope he comes home with a gold medal.

Even if you're not sporty or dread the prospect of going on TV, there's another way to accumulate your grubstake and the younger you are, the better.

A 25-year-old saving £100 a week in a stocks and shares ISA would, within twenty years, have built up a rather handy pot of £190,000, assuming longer-term stock market returns continued to hover around 5.5%.

Let's say the same 25-year-old started saving £100 a week until she was 30 and five years from now increased her savings rate to £200 a week for the following ten years, bumping it to £300 for the next five. This scenario would produce a much chunkier £345,000 by the time she was 45.

Too old? No 45-year-old would concur. At this age, you're still young enough to address your ambitions before they pile far too high and become physically unrealistic. Then again, the fact that they were in their 40s and 50s didn't act as a barrier to those four mothers as they set sail across the Atlantic….

The Week In Numbers


Fall in the cost to Sky of acquiring 'live' Premier League TV rights for the period 2019-22, the first example of deflation since the competition began more than twenty five years ago. Sky currently pays £11m per match, but from next year this will drop to £9.3m.

$12 billion

Estimated value of the world's cannabis market according to consultants Bryan Garnier. The figure is being examined by spirits manufacturer Pernod Ricard, who also make Beefeater gin and Havana rum, as it believes that if cannabis was legalised, drinks makers could use it in their products, creating a different form of 'high' for consumers.


Average income of first-time property buyers according to UK Finance. The average age of a first-time buyer is now 30. Last year, there were 365,000 first-time buyers, an increase of 7.4% on 2016.


Inflation remains stubbornly above its 2% target despite forecasts that it would start to tumble last month. Economists believe this is attributable to several factors: catering and restaurant costs have risen by more than 3%, while transport costs have ballooned by 5.2%, but perhaps the oddest reason is the cost of visiting the zoo which has apparently soared by 5.1%.

1.3 million

Rise in the number of people aged 45-54 who started using Snapchat in the USA last year. The site now has 4.7 million middle-aged users and has grown in popularity with people having affairs thanks to its 'disposable' messaging system. The unfaithful husband or wife know that their 'snaps' are automatically deleted after a single viewing.

Peter Sharkey read economics at the University of Bristol. He worked as an accountant on three continents and has been a company director and investor for more than 30 years, building and selling three different companies.