'It was brutal': ITV's first Gladiators champion rows for 24 hours
- Credit: Ken Mears
The UK's first champion of ITV's show Gladiators has battled through a “brutal” 24-hour rowathon and raised double his goal for Comic Relief.
Weininger Irwin, who lives in Dagenham, started the row at the Liberty Shopping Centre in Romford at 6pm on March 17 and finished at the same time the next day, on his 59th birthday.
Thanks to donations on the day, £300 from Islington’s Copenhagen Primary School and 148 supporters on his JustGiving page, Weininger smashed his target of £2,000 and will donate around £4,000 to the cause.
This comes after his win on ITV’s hit show 30 years ago, and although he still enjoys pushing his body to the limit, the 59-year-old said he’s “so glad” the challenge is behind him.
He said: “It was brutal. In the morning the shopping centre was so cold - even colder than outside.”
But it was the ninth hour that Weininger said was the “worst” point, and at certain stages, he believes he was “hallucinating”.
“The hours seemed to take so long to go by and your body starts to fatigue and at some points, I had to do a single leg row,” Weininger said.
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A highlight through the difficult challenge was his wife, Janice, bringing him a pillow to sit on, he said.
“Without that, I don’t know what I would have done," he added.
Weininger took five-minute breaks every hour, which were “immense” as they gave him the chance to visit the toilet and stretch off.
He added: “I just kept moving, even so, coming down to the last part, even pushing was difficult as I had aches and soreness, but I'm so glad it’s done.”
The community exercise officer said he couldn’t have done it without his “absolutely amazing team” who supported him at different hours of the day, evening and morning.
After finishing the row, a birthday cake was presented to Weininger.
He said: “I was very chuffed, but I had forgotten it was my birthday.
"People were so supportive and I’m so glad I was able to raise awareness of prostate cancer and knife crime also.”
On the evening of March 18, Weininger celebrated his birthday with a Chinese takeaway - “only his jaw was moving", he added.
“I’m smiling and I’m just glad that it’s over and the feedback has been immense.”
Donations can be made at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/rednoseday22-cool-rowings