'It was brutal': ITV's first Gladiators champion rows for 24 hours

Weininger Irwin celebrates the completion of his 24 hour Rowathon in aid of Comic Relief with family

Weininger Irwin (centre) celebrates the completion of his 24-hour rowathon in aid of Comic Relief with family. - 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.   

Weininger Irwin rows alongside his son Romane

Weininger Irwin rows alongside his son Romane. - Credit: Ken Mears

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.  

Weininger Irwin nears the end of his 24 hour rowathon at the Romford Liberty Centre in aid of Comic

Weininger rowed for 24 hours in aid of Comic Relief. - Credit: Ken Mears

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.  

Weininger Irwin rows alongside his son Romane

Weininger Irwin rows alongside his son Romane and throughout the rowathon he was thrilled to be joined by members of the public. - Credit: Ken Mears

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.  

Supporters of Weininger

Supporters of Weininger did a great job of keeping him motivated. - Credit: Ken Mears

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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 Irwin nears the end of his 24 hour rowathon at the Romford Liberty Centre in aid of Comic

Weininger Irwin nears the end of his 24-hour rowathon at the Romford Liberty Shopping Centre in aid of Comic Relief. - Credit: Ken Mears

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.”  

Weininger Irwin as he completes his 24 hour Rowathon

Weininger as he completes his 24-hour rowathon. - Credit: Ken Mears

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.  

Weininger gets a hug from wife Janice after he finishes his rowathon

Weininger gets a hug from wife Janice after he finishes his rowathon. - Credit: Ken Mears

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.”  

Cheering crowd applauding Weininger Irwin after he completes his 24 hour Rowathon

Cheering crowd applauding Weininger Irwin after he completes his rowathon. - Credit: Ken Mears

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.”  

Weininger with his wife Janice getting a birthday card from a young supporter

Weininger with his wife Janice getting a birthday card from a young supporter. - Credit: Ken Mears

Donations can be made at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/rednoseday22-cool-rowings 

Weininger Irwin rows alongside his son Romane

The public attended to support Weininger during his 24-hour rowathon. - Credit: Ken Mears