SIDCUP’S Steve Backley OBE put down his javelin and picked up a tennis racket to launch a charity partnership in south London on Friday (May 3).

Backley was joined by fellow Olympian Zac Purchase and Paralympian Sophie Christiansen at David Lloyd leisure centre in Raynes Park, Merton, to celebrate their partnership with Together for Short Lives.

On the last day of Children’s Hospice Week, the sporting heroes were challenged to a game of tennis by Year 4 pupils from Hillcross Primary School in Morden.

Born in Sidcup in 1969 and a former world record holder in javelin, 44-year-old Backley said: “All charities are struggling to for attention and I suppose all charities are worthy and needy.

“It’s just a tough thing to decide who to support – every sportsman has the opportunity to help whoever they choose to go with.

“The reason for me is simple: this is the most heart-wrenching, children who are terminally ill.”

Together for Short Lives works with children’s hospices across the country to ensure every child and their family has the best possible care when they need it.

Backley added: “Whatever I can do as a retired sportsperson – if we can help in anyway, of course we do, that’s the main reason.

“The association with David Lloyd helps make the noise and that’s what it’s all about.

Before embarking on his greatest challenge, Backley told the children: “I’m going to beat you!”

He added: “Tennis is not something I’ve honed my skills at over the years, we’ll find out.

“But sportspeople can turn their hand at anything though, right?”

For more information about Together for Short Lives and Children’s Hospice Week visit