Botham’s long walk for kids

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - WORLD -

COLOMBO: Cricket leg­end Ian Botham was cheered on by hun­dreds of Sri Lankans yes­ter­day as he be­gan a 160km trek from the is­land’s war-rav­aged north to its tsunami-bat­tered south­ern coast.

The English­man promised to com­bat the sap­ping heat with plenty of night- time “re­hy­dra­tion” be­fore he set off from Kilinochchi, a key bat­tle­ground in Sri Lanka’s 37-year eth­nic war.

Botham has done 14 char­ity treks but this is his first such ad­ven­ture out­side Bri­tain and is in­tended to raise money for dis­ad­van­taged chil­dren, both in Sri Lanka and else­where.

Kushil Gu­nasek­era, one of the or­gan­is­ers, said about 2 000 fans had cheered Botham off from the start­ing line in Kilinochchi.

“He tossed (the coin) at a school­boy cricket match in Kilinochchi in the morn­ing and started his first 20km leg of the walk,” Gu­nasek­era said, while tak­ing part in the walk.

Botham, 57, is plan­ning to walk 20km ev­ery day, do­ing a to­tal of 160km, be­fore he reaches the coastal vil­lage of Seenigama on Novem­ber 8.

On some days, he will be driven be­tween towns and he ac­knowl­edged he had re­vised plans for a longer jour­ney due in part to swel­ter­ing con­di­tions.

“It is con­sid­er­ably shorter than most walks,” Botham said. But we have to fac­tor some­thing else. It is the heat and hu­mid­ity. There will be a lot of re­hy­drat­ing to be done in the evenings.”

The all- rounder, who has raised more than $20 mil­lion for char­ity with his walks since 1985, has been a fre­quent vis­i­tor to Sri Lanka as a player, TV com­men­ta­tor and good­will am­bas­sador.

Pro­ceeds from the Sri Lanka walk will go to the Lau­reus Sport for Good Foun­da­tion, which op­er­ates in 34 coun­tries. – Sapa-AFP

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