Extreme Environment Athlete and former Wales international, Richard Parks reflects on his 13 years as a professional Rugby player and how overtime after his forced retirement, he began to think positively of his career. A severe shoulder injury in 2009 cut short Richard’s career, as he speaks about the black hole he found himself in physiologically and what pulled him out of his depression. Without a plan in place for life after Rugby, Richard explains why did not have the foundations in place and offers advice to retiring players and Rugby clubs on how they should be treating their transition when it comes.

Richard embarked on a journey of self-discovery in 2011 as he became the first person to climb the highest mountain on each of the world’s seven continents and stand on the three poles all in the same calendar year and set a Guinness World Record for the 737 Challenge. Learning how to mountain climb was Richard’s way of putting the ordeal from his career-ending injury behind him and talks about the values he gained as a Rugby player and implemented them in his expedition. The 737 Challenge offered a few moments that tested Richard’s resilience, which he discusses and the importance of supporting Marie Curie Cancer Care, for which over £365,000 was raised.

In 2014, Richard went back to the South Pole, where he became the fastest Briton in history to ski solo and unsupported from the coast of Antarctica to the pole and he mentions the greatest lesson he learnt from that quest, after failing his first attempt the year before. This expedition, the 737 Challenge and his Rugby career all feature in his book Beyond the Horizon and Richard says writing his book is his proudest achievement so far, in which he admits that he leaves himself vulnerable to the readers. Richard also explains how ‘Project Everest’ in 2016, with the support of the University of South Wales, used his oxygen-less ascent to collect data using hypoxia to explore the mechanisms underpinning cognitive decline with Dementia intervention being the focus. Unfortunately after 18 months of preparation, the mission up Mount Everest was called off when Richard had over-acclimatised and came dangerously close to dying.

Richard touches on what he is up to currently, which is translating the leadership lessons he learnt on his adventures and implementing that into educational programs for senior business executives and organisations, as well as acting as a board member of Sport Wales and an ambassador to the Welsh government. There is however another big adventure on the horizon in 2019, although Richard is keeping it under wraps for the time being.






Podcast Link




“It was the values and the skills that I developed and learnt from a career in Rugby that actually enabled all of this to happen, because as a Rugby player the integrity of my performance was paramount to not letting my teammates down. That integrity performance which came from my Rugby career transferred into climbing.” – Richard Parks (Extreme Environment Athlete / Former Wales International)

0 0 1 0 0

Leave a Reply



Go up