Kevin Sinfield comment: Leeds Rhinos legend's fund-raising efforts for Rob Burrow and MND deserve a knighthood for real

He has long been known by Leeds Rhinos fans as ‘Sir Kev’, but if there is any justice, Kevin Sinfield’s official knighthood should be just around the corner

Thursday, 18th November 2021, 12:20 pm

One of Leeds’ favourite (adopted) sons, Sinfield is well on his way to becoming a national treasure.

Even by the high standards of someone top broadcaster - and current Rugby Football League president - Clare Balding described as “the most impressive sportsman” she has seen, Sinfield has become an icon over the almost two years since his friend, former teammate and fellow Rhinos legend Rob Burrow was diagnosed with motor neurone disease (MND).

On Monday morning the ex-Rhinos and Great Britain captain will set off on a 101-mile run from Leicester, where he is now assistant-coach at the Tigers rugby union club, to Headingley stadium in Leeds.

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Kevin Sinfield prepares for his 101-mile challenge at Leeds Beckett University's Carnegie School of Sport. Picture by Simon Hulme.

Accompanied by friends David Spencer and Chris Stephenson, Sinfield plans to complete the course in 24 hours, running it in seven-mile sections, with an hour’s break in between.

Money pledged through donations from the public and sponsorship will be split between the MND Association (MNDA) and an appeal to fund a new Rob Burrow MND Care Centre in the city.

Last December, Sinfield ran seven marathons in seven days and raised more than £2.5m for the MNDA, but next week’s 'Extra Mile' challenge is even tougher.

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Kevin Sinfield is on track to raise more funds for - and awareness of - the battle agianst MND. Picture by Simon Hulme.

Expert advice suggests it normally takes six-nine months’ preparation to go from the marathon distance of 26.2 miles to 100; Sinfield - who has a demanding full-time job - has given himself around six weeks.

It’s worth remembering Sinfield is not a professional runner, he is 41 and his body carries the scars of two decades playing one of the world’s most demanding sports.

It is a feat which for normal human beings is beyond comprehension.

Even the man himself admits he’s not sure he’ll make it, but that is why what Sinfield does has captured the public’s imagination, because it is so hard.

Kevin Sinfield hit the streets to run seven marathons in as many days last December. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.

However, Sinfield is no stranger to beating the odds and dragging himself through dark times; however tough it may be, his mental strength will get him through.

By normal standards, Sinfield is super-human, but he is also a super human. His loyalty to his mate, Burrow, is an inspiration.

Burrow has been at the heart of everything Sinfield has done over the past two years and between them, they have made a real and lasting difference.

MND is no longer an unknown illness. Last week the government committed to invest £50 million over five years in targeted MND research. Without the campaigning done by Burrow and Sinfield, that wouldn’t have happened.

As Sinfield is quick to point out, what he will endure next week is nothing compared to the challenges facing Burrow and his fellow MND sufferers. Leeds and the whole country should be proud of both of them.

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