Freddie Flintoff verses The World

Tuesday, 8 February 2011, 9:00PM – 10:05PM

This new series sees cricketing legend and ultimate bloke Freddie Flintoff try his hand at some of the most extreme sports and challenges on offer around the world. But, ever the competitive sportsman, he won’t be trying anything out without turning it into a competition so he’s also enlisted other former athletes who reached the top of their game to see if they can beat him. Against opponents that include Dennis Rodman, Iwan Thomas and Dennis Wise, Freddie challenges himself at extreme events including skeleton bob, wing walking and rodeo bull riding. 

In this third episode, Freddie takes on former England World Cup winning rugby player Kyran Bracken. Bracken may have conquered the world at rugby, but can he and his cricketing counterpart conquer the traditions of Texas as the pair get set to tackle western riding, test each other’s wit in a Wild West shootout, and risk life and limb as they take on a bull ride at a traditional Texan rodeo. 

The boys meet on a ranch for their first task, and meet their cowboy mentors. Joe explains the injuries he’s acquired on the ranch: “I broke my tailbone, sprained my rotator cuff, broke my arm once, been kicked a time or two, torn up knees.” 

The boys are introduced to their horses, Freddie’s named G-String and Kyran’s Rooster, and immediately notice a particular part of their anatomy. Freddie says:“He’s a big ‘un, ain’t he. I’ve lost me trail of thought here now!” 

Joke’s over and the boys are ready for their first job on the ranch, separating a calf from its mother while on a horse….After some frantic riding, the calf is finally on its own, only to catch the interest of a donkey. Freddie says: “No! Get off him! No, no! You’re a donkey! No! What do you get if you mix them two? A cow-donk?” 

The next day the boys are awoken with a traditional Texan cowboy coffee, but Kyran admits he “doesn’t do coffee” so Freddie is the only one to tackle the special camp brew, which eventually earns him the first point of the competition for showing he is the ‘real cowboy’. 

In between tasks the boys find time for their first practice run in preparation for the big finale of the competition, the bull ride. Freddie has second thoughts after seeing a pro in action for the first time, admitting: “I’m not sure if I can do this.” 

But they’re given some pointers from the 10th best bull-rider in the world, and get some useful advice whilst on a mechanical bull, dubbed RoboBull. But it isn’t long before they take on their first test run on a real bull, with Kyran up first. He says: “I feel like I’m about to go out and face the All Blacks. I wanna get it over and done with.” He lasts an impressive six seconds, as Freddie prepares for his go. “I’d be lying to say now that nerves aren’t taking over, ‘cos they are. I’m pretty nervous. I’m very nervous.” He is thrown to the ground in just half a second: “I just got dumped. I don’t wanna do it. Once is enough.” 

But with Freddie one up, the pair head onto their next challenge – the Texan shootout. The first of three rounds is The Bullet Factory, where they have 24 bullets to hit 24 targets in the quickest time. ‘Fast Hands Fred’ is up first, and manages to miss no targets, however the ‘Ice Dancing Kid’, as Kyran decides to be known in Texas, finishes in a much quicker time but misses seven targets. He explains: “The ones I missed, they were hostages.” Freddie takes the point in round one. 

But in round two, Kyran keeps the competition alive with a good time and no targets missed, so the contest goes on to a final deciding round. This is a head to head shootout, with the first to hit all targets being awarded the vital second point in the competition. Freddie thinks he’s won when he finishes before his competitor, but it’s Kyran who hits the most targets so he is handed the equalising point, and Freddie isn’t happy with the judging, saying: “You’ll have to see that on playback. I think your glasses steamed up.” 

With the boys level on one point each, it’s all down to the decider, and on to a sport in which people have been known to die – a dangerous rodeo style bull-ride. They spend the evening before the big day watching the pros in a real rodeo event, and Freddie airs his fears: “I really don’t think I’m going to be able to do this. I’m bricking it. It’s hardcore.” 

He admits: “This morning I’ve been laying in bed, dozing in and out of sleep and all I can think about is bulls…It’s not so much getting on one which is bothering me, it’s more getting off one, and getting off one safe.” 

Kyran confesses: “This is properly scary, I mean this is real scary this, and, to see them bucking just before they go out…May the best man win, but I just hope both of us come out alive.” 

The build up is finally over, and it’s time for the sporting legends to face up to their fears and take the ride of their lives. It’s Kyran’s turn first, and he survives an impressive 3.3 seconds before being launched to the ground by the angry bull. “I was off pretty quick wasn’t I? I’m alive. I’m alive.” 

Freddie’s bull charges out of the pen with the helpless cricketer on top. He is thrown to the ground in what seems an instant and he quickly runs back to safety. It’s over in a flash and Freddie reflects on an emotional rollercoaster of a task: “For all the nerves, all the adrenaline, everything, that was class! That was class! It was unbelievable! I wanna go again. What a buzz.” 

The point goes down to the wire as Freddie records a time of 3.4 seconds, crowning him the champion of Texas by the skin of his teeth. 

Freddie says: “I’ve experienced emotions I’ve never had before. The adrenaline, the fear, the pain. I got into a place that I’ve never been to in my life before.” 

Kyran says: “Oh it’s been amazing, I mean herding cattle, meeting some incredible people, shooting, and bull riding most of all. I never thought I’d experience anything like this in my life.” 

Tuesday, 25 January 2011, 9:00PM – 10:00PM

This new series sees cricketing legend and ultimate bloke Freddie Flintoff try his hand at some of the most extreme sports and challenges on offer around the world. But, ever the competitive sportsman, he won’t be trying anything out without turning it into a competition so he’s also enlisted other athletes who retired at the top of their game to see if they can beat him. Against opponents that include Dennis Rodman, Iwan Thomas and Dennis Wise, Freddie challenges himself at extreme events including skeleton bob, wing walking and rodeo bull riding. 

In this first episode, Freddie challenges his former England cricket team mate, and the country’s all time leading one day wicket taker, Darren Gough to take on three contests in the depths of Mexico. England cricket might be on a high at the moment, but can this pair handle paintball paragliding, lucha libre wrestling and the final challenge of throwing themselves off some very high cliffs with the divers of Acapulco? 

Freddie meets Darren at Mexico airport and the pair embarks on a spot of sightseeing as Darren reveals why he chose a cricketing career over being a tour guide. He says: “Mexico is like, really really old, I’m sure lots of Mexicans like living here. Oh look at this, this is quite impressive. This is impressive. Impressive, this.”

Leaving the cultural experiences of Mexico City behind them, the pair head to Acapulco to meet veteran cliff diver and diving coach Angel. Cliff diving is one of Acapulco’s most famous traditions. When the divers hit the water, they’re moving at over sixty miles an hour. Without proper training, and perfect timing, this can cause anything from a nasty headache to death. Angel takes the boys up to the dive point and another diver gives them a demonstration. Darren admits: “Well I can’t even walk up the ledge, never mind jump over. Fred, I think you’ve got this one in the bag!” 

But before they tackle the cliffs, Freddie and Darren take on each other in the completely made up and a bit mental sport of paintball paragliding. The idea is to fly about in the sky armed to the teeth. They’ll then shoot at each other and the winner will be whoever gets the most hits. After a couple of attempts both men make it off the ground but Freddie has some trouble with his gun and is a sitting target for Darren. Floating aimlessly he says: “He’s getting us! I’ve been shot in the finger – bastard! Me gun’s knackered now, and I’m just floating 6,000 feet above Mexico.” 

With Darren one result up, the boys’ next challenge is lucho libre wrestling, which is extremely popular in Mexico. It’s a serious and painful business, with wrestlers suffering severe injuries. Freddie and Darren will be fighting on opposing tag teams alongside pro wrestlers in front of a big crowd. The winner of the bout will win the challenge. Under the tutelage of Horus, one of the country’s leading wrestlers, Freddie and Darren learn the basics. Recovering after training Freddie says: “They were pushing against us. You know that submission hold that’s sore! I’m not sure how much acting that is. I’ll be honest I’m a bit apprehensive about tomorrow now.” 

But the next day Freddie suffers a setback and his physio sends him to the hospital for an x-ray. The x-ray reveals he’s aggravated an old injury and won’t be able to take part in the wrestling challenge that evening. He says: “I’m gutted. It’s like l never expected this. You get all these injuries playing cricket and this is the first day and I’ve fractured a rib. I’m gutted about it, I’m embarrassed as well. It’s just gutting.” 

While he can’t actually fight, Freddie still joins his tag team ringside and gets kitted out in the traditional spandex outfit. But as Darren takes his place in the ring, Freddie finds the atmosphere in the crowd almost as intimidating. He says: “I think I’m going to beat up by that fella in crowd. Bloody hell fire, listen to it. Listen to it!” 

Despite struggling to beat Freddie’s team the fact Darren took part in the wrestling when Freddie couldn’t, means he wins the Lucha Libre challenge and he’s brought back to the ring for a victory speech. Freddie says: “This is priceless, it’s like the end of a Rocky film. I’d like to thank you Mexico. It’s brilliant!” 

Their final challenge is cliff jumping and, after a worried night’s sleep, Freddie and Darren meet Angel to begin their training. Darren and Freddie will compete against each other by diving and jumping from the cliffs. Whoever goes highest will win. As it’s the most extreme challenge of the lot, the winner will be awarded two points. 

Freddie says: “So you’re going to dive into there head first, and you don’t know what you’re going into! It’s stupid! My ticker’s going boom boom boom.” 

After two early dives, the lads are even so Angel takes them to the next ledge ten metres up. Psyching himself up Freddie says: “Just give me one second, I’m alright, I’m alright though. I’m fine, I’m fine, I’m fine – slightly flagging but fine.” 

Completing the jump, Freddie emerges triumphant and Darren will have to match him to stay in the competition. At first he says: “I might just give in and let him have this one.” But his competitive spirit gets the better of him and he conquers his fears. 

The winner is decided by the foolproof though slightly spurious system of a clapometer featuring a dozen speedo clad divers who name Freddie the winner. With the final challenge being worth two points it means his and Darren’s Mexican fiesta ends in a two all draw. 

Darren says: “I’m not lying when I say it’s been the craziest week I’ve ever had in my life!” 

Freddie says: “When I play cricket you get adrenaline, you get the rush of doing it. But when you retire you’re not sure if you’re going to get that again, but today I’ve experienced that tenfold. I’ve never experienced fear, excitement, nerves, adrenaline like that in my life before!”

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