Former Olympian joins space race with tourist’s ticket

An 80-year-old former Olympian with a seat on Virgin Galactic’s first space tourism flight says it will be the “icing on the cake” after a life of doing “exciting things”.

Jon Goodwin competed for Britain at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich as a canoeist and, after his 2014 Parkinson’s disease diagnosis, climbed up and cycled down Mount Kilimanjaro.

He signed up for the space flight in 2005, he told BBC Breakfast.

“I just saw it – when it came up I was the fourth person to pick up the phone and sign up,” he said.

“There’s now 700 following behind me.

“It was just to have the opportunity to do something very few other people have done.

“More people have climbed Everest than have gone into space.”

Goodwin admitted some hesitation ahead of next month’s flight.

“I do hesitate on certain things, in as much as there’s no toilet on this rocket ship,” he said.

“I have to go back to wearing nappies, which I can’t remember the last time I had a nappy on.”

Asked how he would top going into space and back, he joked: “It might be that I need to go to the moon or something.”

On the demands on his body, he said he was “very thankful to Virgin Galactic”.

“When I got Parkinson’s I thought they were going to tell me that I couldn’t do it, but they’ve never consulted me about it,” he said.

“They’ve just assumed I’m fit enough to do it.

“I’ve done two-hour sessions on the James Bond centrifuge machine up to 6.5G and came out with flying colours.

“My wife’s always fully supportive of whatever I want to do.

“We have two boys and they’re both coming out to see me whiz into space.”

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