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Olympic medallist set for solo bike ride from John O'Groats to Land's End

By Hannah Sinclair

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Mary King has represented Team GB at six Olympics.
Mary King has represented Team GB at six Olympics.

An Olympic event medallist has admitted she will be "winging it" when she sets off from John O'Groats next week on a solo cycle challenge to Land's End.

Mary King, who has represented Team GB at six Olympics, winning two silver medals and a bronze, is raising money for a dementia project in Devon.

The 61-year-old is due to start her journey from John O'Groats on Monday. She has never attempted a cycle challenge before but hopes to complete it in about 18 days.

She will be wild camping as she passes through Scotland.

Mary is raising funds for the Sid Valley Memory Café and its Admiral Nurse Appeal in memory of her late sister-in-law Julia Thomson.

Julia died at the age of 64, having had early onset dementia. She enjoyed cycling with her husband Simon, Mary’s brother.

Mary intends to continue Julia's legacy by using her bike on her fundraising trip.

"I am fairly winging it," Mary said. "I have a friend who did it a couple of years ago and she has been very helpful.

"I’ve borrowed her tent as I am planning to wild camp in Scotland. I am using my sister-in-law's road bike, so this challenge is a tribute to her.

"I’m not a cyclist normally, and have never done a cycle challenge before.

"I’m not sure how long it will take – maybe 18 days approximately. I will take it day by day."

Mary plans to stay with friends and have occasional nights at B&Bs as she gets closer to the end of her challenge.

Donations can be made on her JustGiving page which has raised more than £3000 so far.

As well as her Olympic medal-winning performances, Mary's equestrian achievements include winning all three events of the Grand Slam of Eventing and seven European Championship medals. In 2013 she was appointed MBE for her services to the equestrian world.

Mary was brought up in a Devon village. Her love of horses began at the age of six when she learnt how to ride on a pony belonging to one of her neighbours and was able to progress through the Pony Club system.

As a girl she worked at European champion Sheila Willcox’s stables and began to climb the ranks of British eventing before making it as a professional in 1988.

Mary is due to start her end-to-end challenge after competing in the Bicton International Horse Trials.

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