Rower Emma Twigg to un-retire with epic bike ride

Twigg will cycle across the globe to get in shape for Tokyo 2020

After two fourth place finishes, there's some unfinished business for Kiwi rower Emma Twigg at the Olympic Games.

The disappointed New Zealander left the sport but is now looking to make a comeback at Tokyo 2020.

The 31-year-old is using an interesting training method though. She's decided to bike across the world with two Kiwi friends and meet as many Olympians along the way as posssible.

"I think there are a few people who will be scratching their head a little bit," she said.

"But it’s great training for a rowing boat... hopefully this will kickstart my fitness."

An Olympic mission

Fellow Olympian Rebecca Wardell is leading the group.

The former heptathlete competed at Beijing 2008.

Twigg is joining her on the first part of a huge trip from Switzerland to New Zealand.

"It’s roughly 18,000 km from here to New Zealand. And approximately (it will take) one year – give or take a few months."

Wardell doesn't want to have her nose stuck in her phone too much either.

"(We are) going with papers maps as much as we can."

"(But) we’ve also got a GPS tracker. And we’ve downloaded some offline maps onto our phones so between those three things if we get lost – I’ll be in trouble.

Meeting Olympians

The idea is to meet up with as many Olympians on the way.

They plan to catch up with Olympic champion rower Iztok Cop and Petra Robnik in Slovenia.

The third member of the group, Sarah van Ballekom, used to work for the World Olympian Association.

"Essentially (it’s) an alumni organisation for Olympians. So we try to encourage Olympians to give back to their communities and help them in their life transition."

She's made Olympic contacts across the globe and, now, it's time to call in a few favours.

"(After Slovenia), we are off to Croatia. And we will be meeting up with (Olympic medallists) Zoran Primorac and Igor Boraska."

And for anyone worried that Sarah won't be able to keep up with the two Olympic fitness fanatics.

"I will just slot in behind. Em and Becs will shelter me from the wind and the rain."

'The best Olympism can offer'

The trip has attracted the attention of International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach.

"This is the true Olympic spirit. It is a great athletic performance," he said.

"This is best Olympism can offer."

Emma Twigg thinks the support of Mr. Bach will open a few doors as they set off on their epic journey.

"Hopefully, we can do the Olympic Rings proud."

Twigg intends to hook up with some rowing clubs along the journey to make sure she is in top shape.

But her return to rowing means she will have to curtail her involvement in the trip.

"I won’t make it all the way back to New Zealand but I am sure (Rebecca) is going to do us all proud."

An epic journey planned with an Olympic goal in mind.

To find out more about the trip that Emma Twigg, Rebecca Wardell and Sarah van Ballekom are on right now - head over to the Long Way Home site here.

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