A veritable galaxy of cycling stars, including Geraint Thomas, Laura Kenny and Martyn Ashton, gathered at Battersea, London, for the annual Champions of CycleSport dinner, in aid of the charity Action Medical Research.
Seated in the glittering confines of the Battersea Evolution venue, a stone's throw from the River Thames, the cycling superheroes joined nearly 800 guests and supporters of the charity for a gala dinner and fundraising event, including a silent auction and raffle — supported by Garmin and Maserati.
Other sporting legends present included Kelly Holmes, Dani King, Alex Dowsett and David Millar. Hosted by Dermot Murnaghan, dinner was interspersed with short, engaging and occasionally hilarious interviews with various champion cyclists, and Jason Kenny put in a surprise appearance alongside Laura Kenny to discuss life after Rio, their recent nuptials, and what's next for the pair.
Action Medical Research is a children's charity that raises funds to support research into the diseases that devastate children's lives. The charity has a long history of funding research that has led to lifesaving medical breakthroughs, such as the first polio vaccines in the UK and ultrasounds during pregnancy. Currently, the charity is funding over 70 research projects covering everything from sickle cell disease and epilepsy to cerebral palsy, brain cancer and rare diseases.
One guest who seized the attention of the crowd was Alex Dowsett. The cyclist, who suffers from haemophilia and has his own charity, Little Bleeders, talked engagingly about how things have changed for people with the condition and how it's research funded by organisations like Action Medical Research that makes this possible. It wasn't just about enabling future champions, he added, it was about ensuring that children with conditions such as this can lead normal, fulfilling lives.
“I spent time on crutches and even in a wheelchair when I was growing up because of haemophilia-related problems," commented Dowsett, "but a child growing up in the UK now won’t have any of those issues because of the research that charities like Action Medical Research have done. I would urge anyone to support them as their work really can change the lives of future generations.”
The evening concluded with a charity auction and prizes included a portrait of Chris Froome by artist Paul Oz and tickets to the Tour de France.
“This was one of the best events that Action Medical Research has put on — it’s fantastic to be part of such an impressive celebration of cycling talent,” said Paralympic Champion Jody Cundy. “The atmosphere in the room is great and it’s humbling to see how generous everyone is for such an important cause.”
Over £285,000 was raised for Action Medical Research over the course of the evening — a significant amount that will help to fund more medical research projects and in turn help thousands of children. Action Medical Research also runs a number of sporting events and sportives, and announced that over the course of 2016 more than 6,000 cyclists have participated in these events raising a whopping £829,000.