Into Africa! Melanie Marshall leads Olympic swimmers Rebecca Adlington, Jo Jackson and Ross Davenport on Zambian cycle trek

Adlington, Jackson, Marshall and Davenport are ready to go.
Adlington, Jackson, Marshall and Davenport are ready to go.

WRANGLE’S Commonwealth queen Melanie Marshall has today set off on her African adventure.

The former Olympic swimmer is leading fellow competitors Rebecca Adlington, Jo Jackson and Ross Davenport on a four-day 280-mile cycle through Zambia.

They are travelling from Livingstone to Lusaka on bumpy roads - facing many deadly threats along the way.

“There will be snakes and scorpions, and malaria will be rife at that time of year,” Marshall told The Standard.

“We’ll also be riding through impoverished communities on our bikes.

“I just hope the locals will support us and not try to steal our equipment.”

Marshall - the most decorated English woman at a single Commonwealth Games, following her six-medal haul at Melbourne in 2006 - wants to raise £50,000 for Sport In Action, a non-government funded organisation that inspires change within impoverished communities.

She is a patron of the charity and has previously visited Zambia to raise awareness.

The swimmers will camp at villages along the route, so there will be none of the usual home comforts like beds or showers during the four-day challenge.

When at their destination, they will give free swimming lessons to locals.

The charity runs an orphanage for street children and uses sport to educate and inspire children, many of whom have lost their parents to AIDS.

Marshall added: “In terms of education, people don’t know enough about combating HIV and AIDS there. Life expectancy is 40 and from every 1,000 babies born, 100 die at birth.

“You can hand out all the pills you want but we want to educate people to be able to avoid catching the disease.”

To donate to Bike for Africa visit www.justgiving.com/ZambiaCycle