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What do our athletes get up to on Christmas day?

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Richard Whitehead

25 December 2013

What do athletes get up to on Christmas day? We spoke to a few of our Olympic and Paralympic stars in the run up to Christmas to ask them what they’d be doing on the big day!

T44 Paralympic & world 200m champion Richard Whitehead (coach: Keith Antoine) cited Christmas as important family time.

“This will be my first Christmas with my daughter Zara so it’ll be at home with the family. I always run on Christmas day – maybe a gentle 30 or 40 minutes just to get my legs ticking over. I always do that as I feel it’s really important to focus in on the really important things in your life [on Christmas day], so for me that’s my family as well as my training.”

When we quizzed him on his diet, Rich said: “My diet is quite healthy and I try to maintain that during the festive period even though it can be quite hard when you’re going round to people’s houses and having buffets and things like that. But you’ve got to let your hair down a little bit and celebrate with the family on Christmas day.”

European 800m champion Lynsey Sharp (Terrance Mahon) will be spending both Christmas day and New Year back home in Scotland but won’t neglect her training.

“I like to train on Christmas morning as then I’m hungrier for my Christmas dinner! Although saying that I’ll definitely be opening presents first! After training I generally just eat all day, watch TV and take the dogs for a walk.” As for what’ll be different in 2013 Sharp added: “I think I’m going to make a Victoria sponge this year – I’ve already planned it, the diet’s off!”

2010 European Championship 400m bronze medallist Martyn Rooney (Rana Reider) joked that his day would be all about cake! When we posed the question, what will you be eating, Rooney said: “Whatever my mum cooks me – I’m not in charge when I’m at home!” before jokingly apologising to his coach Rana Reider who was stood nearby. The 6ft 6in 400m star added: “I’ll probably go for a run in the morning and then go round and see my family; it’s a family day for me.”

We also spoke to Dan Greaves (Jim Edwards) about his plans for December 25.

“I’m going to be enjoying family dinner and a well-earned rest day - I’ll be training on Christmas eve though! I’m a bit of a traditionalist at heart, so it’s nice to know you can have a break half way through the year, reflect on the summer and the first half of winter and prepare yourself for the rest of the winter before we have to start peaking for competitions.”

Again we asked Dan about his diet on Christmas day, and he joked: “I’ll be on the seafood diet – see everything and eat it!” When pushed for a serious answer though, Dan said:

“You’ve got to indulge a little bit. I have friends who’ve retired now and they used to give up their Christmas and have since regretted it, and personally I’m not sure that one day a year [of rest and indulgence] will make much difference, given the amount I and other athletes train. It’s nice to just get that disconnection and enjoy a normal Christmas with friends and family.”