THE JOURNAL

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What Laureus is about

For the sixth time in the 19-year history of the Awards, the LWSA18 were held in the prestigious location of Monaco – the emotional birthplace of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation. Nelson Mandela’s iconic statement on 25 May 2000 continues to this day to galvanise a global community: “Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope, where once there was only despair”. Currently, Laureus leads more than 100 projects of a diverse nature in 35 countries worldwide, all with the common goal of promoting social change within communities. Further objectives include ending violence and discrimination, and the work of Laureus has been particularly impactful for underprivileged young people living in underdeveloped regions.

 

I was so thrilled to be invited to visit a number of Laureus projects over the last few years. Most recently, together with several fundraising friends of the Laureus Foundation Switzerland, we were able to participate and see first-hand some of the amazing work being led by Laureus Academy project volunteers in creating a more inclusive learning environment for young children with learning disabilities.

A ride under challenging conditions

Taking centre stage this time for raising awareness of the great work of the Laureus Foundation was the second Sport for Good Ride, which would start and end in the Principality of Monaco, taking in the majestic views of both the Italian and French Rivieras. An impressive LWSA18 cycling team composed of Laureus Academy members, guests and ambassadors of IWC Schaffhausen and Mercedes-Benz, as well as international journalists, braved the particularly wintry conditions to complete a magnificent ride of around 50 kilometres. Such severe snowy conditions had not been seen in the region for around 15 years. Fabian Cancellara (Laureus Academy member) was a wonderful source of motivation for the ride, stating that “we will stick together as a team, and although we are going into tough weather conditions, for a good cause we will blank that out”. That’s exactly what we did, resulting in a magnificent and successful cycling event.

Meeting heroes

In my younger days, I was a keen athlete, and meeting and riding with one of my childhood heroes, Daley Thompson, was a thoroughly inspiring experience. It is humbling to observe how he and so many of the other sporting legends are so modest, even if their achievements are second to none. It is clear to see how the children participating in the Laureus projects are motivated and inspired when meeting Laureus Ambassadors, helping them in their quest to become champions in their own right.

Daley Thompsons embarked on the Laureus Sport For Good Ride
Andrew Thomas and Christoph Grainger-Herr present the IWC Pilot’s Watch Mark XVIII Edition

On the road

With the road conditions potentially too dangerous for full-on racing, with such accomplished sportsmen on the bikes it was too tempting not to have a few short controlled sprint races. On our first hill climb, heading out of Monaco, it did seem fitting to challenge “the Gladiator” (Rolf Mueller), who seemed to need a battery-powered bike to keep up with the peloton. He was in typically wonderfully jovial and competitive spirits and claims he never switched on the power assistance to drive him up the steep slopes. During the second stage of the ride, my second controlled race was much tougher: a two-kilometre hill climb with Richard Permin, the French backcountry skier, who excels in this adventure sporting discipline – a perfect fusion of freestyle and freeride skiing. Amazingly, Richard has only just completed an intense rehabilitation plan after a recent serious injury, and is now back stronger than ever. Remarkably, this was Richard’s first time on a racing bike, yet I was pushed to my limits to even stay a tyre-width ahead of him in our hill climb race. He is certainly a natural sportsman. Riding as a team with some controlled racing was certainly a lot of fun, but my main highlight was everyone completing the Sport for Good Ride safely, and of course on time – even with some of the group taking a quick Mercedes AMG F1-style pit stop in Italy to relax and recover for the journey back to Monaco.

The perfect timepiece

The perfect watch for the occasion was unquestionably the Pilot’s Watch Mark XVIII Edition “Laureus Sport for Good Foundation”, which is the 12th member of the IWC Laureus collection and which was presented at the LWSA18 Sport for Good Ride. The sporty feel is achieved through a light yet deceptively strong black ceramic case (41mm diameter), which is the perfect setting for the intense midnight blue dial. The blackened hands and the red tip of the second hand personifies the sportiness of this fashionable timepiece. A soft-iron inner case ensures protection against magnetism, while the precision engineering is truly befitting for a pilot’s watch. The case is rounded off with a titanium case back with a beautiful engraving of an original drawing, selected by public vote, by talented 11-year-old Ana Claudia from Brazil on the theme “Time to be healthy”. It was a true pleasure to wear this watch during the ride.

 

Overall, the LWSA Sport for Good Ride has become an important event that brings together legends of sport in such an impactful way, emphasising the core message of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, i.e. that sport can change the world.

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