Setting sail on a new adventure
Published at 09:10, Monday, 14 May 2012
REPRESENTING his country in international competition, Paul Hobrough is only too well aware of the frequent injuries top sports people can sustain.
For 16 years, he too was at the top of his game, racing for Great Britain’s flatwater kayak team against the world’s best.
But it was during the down time at international camps that the energetic go-getter plotted his next career path.
Unlike other competitors, Paul could not just relax in between training sessions, and he shadowed physiotherapists working on elite sports people.
It gave him an idea, and he gained the relevant degrees to branch off and launch his own business, Physio & Therapy UK, when his sports days came to an end.
Such has been the immense success of his venture, five clinics have been opened in the South of England. But now, Northumberland-born Paul (39) is opening up his new home in Corbridge to spread his expertise up North.
He said: “I have opened the clinics down South in the biggest area for competition and built my reputation around that, but my heart has always been in the North-East.
“I don’t for one second think that it will be easy coming to Corbridge and I am a bit apprehensive despite less competition for business.
“I knew what I was up against down there but I really want to make a fist of things up here so I can live my life here, treating people and offering everything I have learned over the years.”
Paul was born in Ponteland, living on campus at Northumberland College, as both of his parents were lecturers, until 1979 when it closed to become the headquarters of Northumbria Police.
The closure resulted in a relocation down South as new employment was found at the University of Surrey.
But they still held on to their North-Eastern roots, holidaying in Warkworth at every opportunity throughout the year.
And it was on one of these regular jaunts that Paul discovered a career in sport was a real possibility.
He said: “I was the most academic member of my family but my parents were desperate for me to find a sport.
“One day, I went out with a canoe with my friends and their father but thought it would be disastrous as I was always more rubbish than them at all sports. But then it was like this eureka moment and I could just do it!”
After realising he could kayak, things developed as rapidly as the white water some kayakers face, and he was selected to represent his country for the first time at the age of 15.
It was the start of a long, illustrious career in the sport for Paul as he and his teammates worked towards Olympic qualification three times.
Prior to his arrival on the scene, each country could enter a boat into the Games, but things changed so that only a certain number of competitors could appear.
Despite it becoming a lot harder to qualify, Paul was convinced he and his friends in the four-man boat could make the 2004 Sydney Olympics – only to be devastated when the team narrowly missed out.
“We had a really good result in the World Cup in 2002 against brilliant competition, finishing fourth in the B final.
“That meant we were in the top eight in the world and I was even asked for my measurements for the Olympic suit.
“We all believed, 100 per cent, that we were going to go to the Olympics and win a medal, so it was such a crushing blow to fall at the final hurdle.”
He continued: “I think everybody in that boat left kayaking that day, but it gave me the opportunity to build my therapy business, and I remember drawing up the business plan on the back of an aeroplane sick bag!”
Throughout his experiences with Team GB, Paul realised that physiotherapy played a massive part in ensuring athletes were in peak condition.
He said: “I don’t think any athlete who competes is ever injury free; we were seeing people, such as masseuses or physios, on a daily basis.
“I held these people in such high regard and, me being me, I couldn’t just sit still and I had to get involved with everything.
“I thought that I had helped treat all these world and Olympic gold medallists, the absolute best, and it gave me a buzz.”
After receiving all the qualifications needed, Paul launched Physio & Therapy UK to great success and has had Olympic medal prospect Mo Farah, rugby star Danny Cipriani and England’s 2005 Ashes cricketing hero Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff as clients in the past.
Currently, the list of athletes as customers includes four runners fighting for a place in Team GB’s Olympic marathon team, including man-to-watch Scott Overall.
Paul said: “I am choked up with emotion watching the athletes I have worked with when they compete.
“For example, witnessing Mo, who I used to work with but no longer do, come second in the world championships when he should have come first was heartbreaking.
“I travelled to London to see if the marathon runners could qualify for the Olympics, and I must say I was just as nervous as they were!”
However, people need not be a world-beater to book in to see Paul and his team. Anybody with a niggling injury, or who just wants a body check-up, would be made welcome in his clinic.
“No matter what level you compete at, or even if you don’t, I want to help develop you and help achieve your goals.
“I use my own personal experience and my degree, and I tailor the sessions to individuals’ needs.”
Currently, Paul is busying himself putting the finishing touches to his clinic at his home in The Stanners, Corbridge.
He is glad to be back up North and is certain he, his wife Nicola, and children Harriet (8), Archie (4) and Brodie (1) will have no trouble settling in Tynedale.
He said: “Hexham and the Tyne Valley is the perfect place to live and we feel like we are bringing our family home to join the community once more.”
Physio & Therapy UK can be contacted through its main switchboard on (0208) 9432240.
Published by http://www.hexhamcourant.co.uk