Ex-defender breaking pain barrier for cancer cause
A FOOTBALLER forced to retire through injury will next month subject himself to a gruelling long distance triathlon to raise money for a cancer charity.
For the first time since turning professional at Yeovil Town in his teens, Chris Giles was this summer was without the familiar drill of pre-season training followed by league action on the horizon.
The 31-year-old's persistent ankle problems had finally caught up with him, forcing the striker-turned-defender into a coaching role with his most recent club Salisbury City.
Surgery had failed to cure cartilage degeneration in the joint and Giles of Bratton Seymour near Wincanton hung up his boots, sick of being in constant pain.
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However, he has been inspired by a relative's illness to put his body to the test once more for Ironman Wales and thank Macmillan Cancer Support for the role played in his family's lives in recent years.
Giles' mother Dawn has twice beaten cancer in the past five years, with her son now planning to break the pain barrier and raise at least £1,500 for the worthy cause.
Despite admitting he can barely run, Giles will tackle a 4km sea swim off the Pembrokeshire Coast, a 180km bike ride and then a marathon.
He said: "In all honesty, the Ironman was something that has been on my own bucket list for a while now. But the fact I am doing it for such a charity will hopefully raise more awareness.
"I feel really strong apart from my ankle, which was the most frustrating thing about having to stop playing football. It's the multi-directional stuff that the ankle can't deal with and the long-term repercussions of grinding it out for another season were not good.
"The ankle can't handle the run and I will probably shuffle through that like an old man, but I will grin and bear that for the day.
"When I've been training sometimes I've gone out for a run but got a mile down the road and had to walk home but others I have been able to just get on with it.
"It's a choppy swim and a hilly bike ride. If it was only those two I would almost be looking forward to the day."
Giles, who married partner Catherine in the summer, has enjoyed a unique training regime, first cycling through Europe with friends for his stag do entitled Tour De Gileo.
He said he enjoys swimming more every time he hits the pool and has benefited from living next door to an organiser of the Tour of Wessex cycling sportif.
On his choice of charity, Giles said: "My mum has been through quite a recovery both mentally and psychologically as well as physically.
"Sometimes you feel that there isn't a great deal you can do but support. Dad was with her day and night but sometimes you want an opportunity to pay back the care she would've had.
"It's as much a thank you to the organisations that helped our family as well as doing something with that pain that my mother would have gone through, even though it will be nowhere near what a cancer victim goes through."
Giles - who scored 14 goals in 64 appearances for the Glovers and seven in 43 for Salisbury - said finding something to replace training was harder than giving up football.
"In terms of pain, stopping playing was not a difficult decision, last year was a nightmare," he said.
"I was getting up in the middle of the night and falling over, and thinking 'you're 30'. I just thought it was pain you needed to go through to recover but it didn't get any easier.
"There was pain there no matter what and you shouldn't go through that at 30. But at the same time I had trained day-in, day-out for 12 years and needed to keep going."
To support Chris Giles' efforts visit www.justgiving.com/ironman4macmillan.