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English couple competes in own version of Olympics to raise money for charity

Posted at 6:13 PM, Jul 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-30 18:13:39-04

OXFORDSHIRE, UK - Forty-nine sports and 96 events over 17 days - all by two self-proclaimed "idiots.”

English couple Stuart Bates and Charlotte Nichols are attempting the seemingly impossible by competing in their own version of the Tokyo games in which they're the only athletes. It’s all to raise money for a cure to Lou Gehrig’s disease, also known as ALS.

"I lost my brother to this terrible disease 10 years ago when we wanted to do something massive that's never been done before,” said Stuart Bates. “We came up with this absolutely ridiculous idea of doing every Olympic event in the 17 days of the Tokyo games."

As they told CBS News, they're calling it the "Spennylymics" in honor of Bates' brother, Spencer, who was an Olympics super-fan. The fundraising challenge for their two-person summer games isn't for the faint of heart and comes with its fair share of scrapes and bruises.

“Oh, my heart stopped. I was like, ‘That's it - Spennylympics done,” Nichols said when asked if a small part of her worries if they hurt themselves. “I think we worry about each other more than we do about ourselves. There was a slight sort of, ‘Oh my God, what's happened?’ Yeah, well, I saw him get back up, I was like, ‘OK, yep - next event.”

Bates added, “Yeah, I'm a tough cookie, I bounce!”

The Spennylympics is both mentally and physically demanding, and it took a lot of planning as well.

But Bates says the reason behind it is the most driving force. Bates and Nichols' ambitious endeavor has earned them fans from across England.

"I think it's great. We couldn't make it to Tokyo, but we're in Abingdon!" said one fan.

After months of training and advice from dozens of former and current Olympians on everything from cycle racing to windsurfing in the English countryside, the couple say they have the physical endurance needed to complete all the sporting events.

But there are other obstacles – like Nichols’ fear of fish.

“Yes, I have a massive phobia of fish, as ridiculous as that sounds. And we were out practicing there and that was a big, horrible, dead fish floating on the water just by my board and it was all a bit dramatic,” Nichols explained. “But then we got back in and we managed the race.”

She shook it off quickly. “It had to be done. We can't do 95 events and not the windsurfing, can we?” she said.

Going for gold in the dozens of events only comes second to raising money. They've already received more than $40,000 in donations.

"We'll carry on until there's a cure, until there are treatments. We'll keep doing things. If people want us to do the winter Spennylympics or anything, we'll take things on,” Bates said.

Yet another tribute for a beloved brother by two amateur athletes with Olympic-sized hearts.