TV big man on a mission to lose and win

By Amelia Wade

To prepare for a gruelling five-day multi-sport battle against Australia, television sports presenter James McOnie has taken up a yoga-wrestling fitness regime.

He has seven months to get into shape - he's aiming to get under 100kg for the first time since he was a a teen - for the Anza Challenge.

He is in one of two celebrity teams representing New Zealand and Australia that will run, row, cycle and sail their way over 1300km around New Zealand over five gruelling days.

McOnie is a little anxious about the feat, to say the least - "I'm a bit intimidated by it."

But his star sportswomen teammates, Olympian cyclist Alison Shanks and Black Stick Gemma Flynn, are not so worried about the challenge, partly sponsored by the Herald.

Shanks said she was looking forward to the rowing leg the least, and would work on her upper-body strength as the October 15 start date draws nearer.

Meanwhile, Flynn knows she will have to increase her cycling and sailing efforts, but at the moment she is tied up with the six days a week she trains with the Black Sticks.

"I'll be fine with the running," she said at the launch event in Auckland's Viaduct yesterday.

Flynn, Shanks and McOnie will be joined by Marc Ellis and six other top athletes, sporting celebrities and Halberg Award winners yet to be announced.

Their numbers will be swollen by members of the Aussie and Kiwi public who will join the sports stars for the final 10km push to the finish.

The finishing legs will take place in Auckland and Sydney for the New Zealand and Australian teams so their countrymen can join in.

Entry fees will go towards the Halberg Disability Sport Foundation from New Zealanders and Australian donations will be split between the McGrath Foundation and Lifestart.

The 10km entry costs $100 and the children's 5km race is $45, which includes a New Zealand performance running shirt to wear in the race.

- NZ Herald

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