Champion Birthday

This little piece appeared in The Guardian on 13th August 2012

Planning on having a baby?  Want them to run a little like Mo Farah, cycle like Sir Chris Hoy or row like Sir Steve Redgrave? You could do worse than ring 23 March on the calendar and plan your efforts accordingly. For what these men have in common – apart from Olympic gold medals aplenty – is their date of birth.
            Although separated in age by decades, a cluster of male British sporting greats were born on the same date in spring – from Redgrave, rowing’s most decorated Olympian (gold medals: five), in 1962, to track cyclist Jason Kenny (gold medals: three) in 1968. In between came Hoy (gold medals: six) in 1976, and Farah (gold medals: as of Saturday night, two) in 1983.

 Add into the mix the four-minute mile runner Roger Bannister (born in 1929), Joe Calzaghe, the Pride of Wales boxing champion (born in 1972), and former England cricket captain Mike Atherton (1968), you have what appears to be a birthday of rare potential. But anyone hoping to give birth to a champion next year has already missed the ideal starting time – at the end of last month.

Mo Farah

Sir Steve Redgrave

Sir Chris Hoy

Jason Kenny

It will come as no surprise to students of astrology that champion athletes should be born at the beginning of spring, under the sign Aries. 'Aries,' writes Charles Carter, 'is characterised by extreme activity, especially physical. There is unlimited energy, daring, love of enterprise and adventure, and a quick, decided temper that ill brooks any opposition or restraint.'

Of course, there's nothing in it. It's just 'coincidence'. As we all know, astrology is foolishness. The fact that Galileo, Kepler, and Newton all practised it, and Chaucer, Shakespeare, Dante, Henry Miller, Louis McNeice and Ted Hughes all 'believed' in it means nothing. We'd much rather take the word of such contemporary luminaries as Dara O'Briain (who's probably never read a word of serious astrology in his life).


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