My Sport Bucket List

Jo-Gunston-Brittany

At a crossroads

At the end of 2003 I found myself in a pickle. A business I’d run for seven years with my boyfriend/business partner collapsed, the nine-year relationship following soon afterwards. I was houseless, jobless and broken.

So, at my lowest ebb, I wrote a Sport Bucket List including ‘go to an Olympics’, learn to surf’, and, ah, ‘set off a controlled avalanche…’ (see 30). I’ve been ticking them off ever since.

I cringe at some of the entries now but they were of their time and they’re there so they must be done. Some have been added more recently.

What would be on your sport bucket list? Let me know at the Sports Liberated Hub on Facebook.

1. Learn to surf

Done! I lived in Australia for a bit (and spent some time in Costa Rica) so have definitely learned to surf, if you count the below as ‘surfing’, that is.

Jo 'surfing'

Me ‘surfing’ at Era Beach, New South Wales, Australia with Marc Silver. Cracking photo by Vic Crabtree.

2. Scuba dive with Great White Sharks in South Africa

3. Enter a sports photography competition

4. Watch a Wimbledon match from the players’ box

5.  Meet Alex Ferguson

Oh god, well this is one of those embarrassing ones I referred to, especially as I’m a Liverpool FC fan… I haven’t done this one yet but I’m a big fan of super-talented, game-changing people and Man Utd were on such a roll especially after the sensational 1999 Champions League final so I guess this is why this is there.

6.  Try coasteering

7.  Go to an Olympics

Done! Atlanta 1994 (sort of), Athens 2004 (definitely) and, oh my, London 2012. I loved it so much it’s got it’s own special section on this website – My Olympic Odyssey – I even managed to get a part in the opening ceremony!

8. Go to a football World Cup

Now, the thing is, I’ve ticked this one off, which is cheating a little because I haven’t been to a World Cup but I did go to Euro 2004, and loved it, but I’ve sort of gone off football now so unlikely to head to a World Cup. HOLD THAT THOUGHT! It’s a few years later now and I’m updating this list and, well, I now also watch the women’s game too. The next Women’s World Cup is in France in 2019… quite fancy a trip to Paris…

9. Watch the Monaco Grand Prix from a boat in the harbour

I almost had this one, or so I thought. I interviewed Nicholas Frankl, host of yacht parties at the Monaco Grand Prix for billionaires. I hoped to wangle my way on board until he all but confirmed that Kim and Kanye West were even refused an invite because they wouldn’t pay. I’ll have to find another way.

10. Write at least one sports book

11. Be a published sportswriter

Done! I also write for The Sunday Times, BBC Sport, Sport magazine and Yahoo, live blogging the Rio Olympics, amongst others.

13. Do international sport charity work

Done! I went on a surf and turtle conservation trip to Costa Rica. Fab-u-lous. Want to do more though – lots more.

14. Volunteer at sport events

Jo-Gunston–at-Sport-Relief-mile

Just saying, be careful if you hand me a megaphone…

Doing it! I’ve been an on-course marshal at the BBC Sport Relief Mile (where I was reprimanded – quite correctly – after an incident with a boy band); took photos at Football Unites Racism Divides football for young girls event in Sheffield, UK, on International Women’s Day; and helped kids over an obstacle course at the British Transplant Games.

15. Be on A Question of Sport

Yes, I mean as a contestant – I’ve been in the studio audience. Now this one might be a little tricky as I’ve possibly missed the boat on being an Olympic sports person so I’m now wanting to go on A League of their Own, which looks like a right laugh.

16. Dance on stage in a show

Done! Not exactly how I pictured it – IT WAS EVEN BIGGER THAN I PICTURED IT. I was a dancer in the London 2012 opening ceremony.

17. Watch an El Classico at the Nou Camp – that’s Barcelona v Real Madrid

18. Be a sport travel vlogger

Doing it! Check out winter sport-ering in Canada – stalked by mountain lion included and long-weekend in Tokyo at the World Gymnastics Championships. Want to do lots, lots more.

19. Get dressed up to go to a proper ballet

This will be Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman-related, I’m sure… Going by private plane? Optional.

20. Go to the world championship snooker final

Despite living down the road from the famous Crucible venue in Sheffield where the world snooker final takes place, for four years, a regular freelance job in London during the month of April has put paid to this bucket list dream. So far.

21. Have a six pack

Done! And not a sit-up was done. If you’re in the water all day, every day, having fun with your mates, those old gymnastics muscles resurface. Presume they’re still in there now…

Jo-Gunston-surfing

I was lucky to get out of that surf alive, I tell you…

22. Watch a 100m Olympic final

Done! You might have heard of the fella who won it… just the fastest man in the world EVER – one Usain Bolt at London 2012. I’ve also got tickets for Usain’s last ever race before he retires. The 4x100m relay at the world championships on August 12 in London in the summer of 2017. So, double done I say!

23. Camp out at Wimbledon

Done! Accompanied by one Kathy Alys we have well and truly ticked this box. Never again.

24. Go to world gymnastics championships

Done! Four times. To be fair, I’d already been a volunteer at the World Gymnastics Championships in Birmingham in 1993 but I think I kind of meant to watch one. So I’ve been to London, Antwerp and, ah, for a long-weekend in Tokyo, Japan (from the UK). The latter is a story that involves Louis Smith’s agent…

25. Watch an England Rugby match at Twickenham / see All Blacks live

Done! Loads of times but it was actually a World Cup match between Scotland and Australia in the semi finals that was the most memorable (aside from England smashing up the All Blacks which is always fun!).

26. Watch major tennis tournament

Done! Been to Wimbledon a few times (see entry 23) but also the Australian Open where I furiously took on some ticket touts. There’s a story there.

27. Watch sport from a director’s box

At the World Cup of Gymnastics in the Sky Box

Done! A VIP box at a Chelsea Champions League match (we had Chelsea-branded rugs for our knees and everything), women’s individual all around gymnastics competition at the London 2012 Olympics, the Sky Box at the World Cup of Gymnastics and for the end of year ATP Tennis tour finals.

28. Be a TV gymnastics presenter

I’m counting this. Myself and Julie Moorcroft did a short video at the World Cup of Gymnastics. Video coming soon.

29. Have a house with a dance studio with mirrors along the wall

Oh lord, so this would be Flashdance related… Still want it though!

30. Set off a controlled avalanche

Ha ha. So this is what they do during a ski season to keep the slopes safe. So in my mind I’d have one of those plunger things like on the cartoon Roadrunner but I think they use computers these days and I’m not sure pressing the ‘enter’ button would have the same feel to it… still, it’s on the list!

31. Do 100 keepie-uppies

I am RUBBISH at these. This is going to take a while…

32. Do a sky dive

Jo-Gunston-Parachute-jump-02

Ready to go…

Done! A tandem sky dive in Byron Bay in Australia. No way was I doing it anywhere cold… And since I’ve had this list, indoor sky diving has been invented. Done that too.

33. Go to world darts championships

Done. I blame a certain England rugby player – that’s you Will Greenwood – for this resulting photo. Let’s just say drinking games and darts and leave it there shall we.

The press officer from Sky Sports was pleased she invited me along…

34. Try slacklining

Done! I thought I’d be good at this being an ex-gymnast an’ all. Possibly try too much too soon here…

35. Get over my fear of horses

Jo-in-polo-hat

Even getting the riding hat on was tricky

Done! Unusual technique here – I tried polo. Although not sure if crying while being taught qualifies as ‘getting over a fear’ but you know.

36. Digitalise VHS gymnastics tapes from my time as an elite gymnast in the 1980s

1980s gymnastics videos

VHS video tapes. Memba these?

Doing it! (Yes, I’m older than I look…)

37. Submit a short film entry to the Sheffield Adventure Film Festival

38. Watch an alpine ski downhill event at Kitbzbhuel, Austria

39. Go to a Winter Olympics

My eye is currently on Pyeongchang 2018…

40. Go to see a Red Bull Cliff Diving competition

Acapulco would be nice…

41. Watch a diving competition at the Olympics

Up in the gods to watch Tom Daley win a history-making bronze. Fab!

Done. Saw a certain Thomas Daley win bronze at London 2012. Goosebumply moment when he and team-mates all jumped in the pool to celebrate.

42. Jump (or dive…) off 10m diving board

43. Be at a Welsh rugby home game to hear the fans sing the national anthem

44. Go to Tokyo 2020 Olympics

45. See a sport event at Wembley

To be fair, I’d done this prior to making this list but it’s such an iconic venue I had to put it in here. Been numerous times but only once did I sit in the dug out and ‘hold’ a press conference. Helps to have friend’s in the industry. Thanks Lizzie Liebenhals!

46. Ski in Canada

Jo-Gunston-ski

I don’t think there was any hidden meaning in this photo taken by the press officer from Inghams, eh Lisa?

Done. I was a lucky, lucky girl as I went on a press trip to Canada staying in five star Fairmont hotels and taking in Banff, Jasper and Lake Louise. Only six days but I LOVED it! Thank you, thank you Lisa Tyrell.

47. Live blog a major sport event

Jo-Gunston-Live-blogging

So. Much. Sport. #dreamjob

Done. Live blogged the Rio Olympic Games for Yahoo! Sport UK. Trying to keep quiet in the small hours of the morning while based in the UK watching multiple events on multiple screens while Team GB were smashing up the Games was the hardest part. Loved doing it – keen to do some more.

48. Kayak somewhere stunning

Done! Again, did this before I created this list but wanted to include it as I’d love to do more. But have been whitewater rafting through the Grand Canyon (with a Navajo nation guide – he lived at Phantom Ranch!) and kayaking through Ardeche River in France (unfortunately a group of us teens ended up in hospital and in the news for going down with food poisoning en masse).

49. Try para-gliding

50. Live my life, laptop under my arm, travelling the world, creating and curating sport content wherever I go, sharing and discussing with like-minded souls.

Dream life? I’m lucky enough to be living it.

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