Dash for Glory

Henry Dash is a very special kind of athlete. His training routine is rigorous, unrelenting and demands the dedication and resolve to spend at least fourteen hours a day lounging on a sofa in front of the TV, sliding pizza down his fat neck. Not for Henry the hard toil and sweat of a punishing exercise regime; this couch competitor has developed a whole new approach that steadfastly avoids any physical effort.

"Bollocks to that," he told us. "You won't catch me trussed up in Lycra, shambolically wheezing my way through the local park, disturbing the atmosphere and scaring the ducks. I've watched enough sport to know that the one thing common to all great athletes is 'mental strength'. They all go on about it. At first I simply dismissed it - most sports people are not bright enough to realise that 'mental strength' is not actually a thing, just some hippy bullshit that their trainer tells them about to get them out of bed in the morning.

"I mean, if they were academically blessed they wouldn't have to run up and down and chuck things around and stuff. The only ones I've got any real respect for is the darts players, because at least they can add up. Although, that's not really a sport, is it? That's just a night out.

"But then, when you think about all the medals that these people keep winning, you start to wonder whether there might not be something to it. So that's why I figured I'd give it a go. Right now I'm in training for the next Olympics."

Henry is currently concentrating on improving his mental strength and has very nearly eliminated any kind of physical activity from his life. He has all his meals brought to him and there is someone on hand to regularly flannel him down and 'manage' his sanitary needs. It's not the case that he never breaks a sweat - in fact he's quite clammy most of the time and sometimes reaching for the TV remote can make him dizzy. And, as he admits himself, his mental exercises are often exhausting.

"Today I've been visualising crossing the winning line and I'm bloody knackered," he said. "Tomorrow I'm going to be thinking hard about being presented with a complementary bottle of champagne after the race, and to be honest I'm really not looking forward to it at all."

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