Ben Challenger was born in Loughborough, England in 1978. The son of Romeo Challenger, drummer for Showaddywaddy, and Dawn Bell, Ben’s childhood was a heady mix of the rock and roll lifestyle and his own passion for sport.

Focus on sport

Ben aged 4 with his mum, Dawn

Ben trialled for Leicester City Football Club as a left winger at thirteen, but soon discovered his talents really lay in basketball. He scored his first slam dunk at fourteen, after playing for just one year, and was soon headhunted by the Leicester Riders, the oldest basketball team in the UK.

Ben flew out to New York on a venture scholarship and toured the US with the team. It was an exciting time for him as a teenager, getting to see America and playing hoop with the big boys!

Returning to England, he played for senior teams. Ben had a natural flair for sport and jumping, with his strong legs and good co-ordination getting him noticed time and time again.

Aiming higher

Impressed by his performance on the basketball court, Ben’s teacher David Driver suggested he should try competitive athletics. Ben had no idea he would be any good at the high jump, but on his first jump he not only managed to clear the bar, he also broke the school record!

Though basketball was still his main focus, Ben quickly developed his remarkable natural ability for the high jump. Early in the 1996 season, Ben jumped the World Junior Championship qualifying height and made top three at the National Junior level. At the end of the season, he was asked represent his country in the World Juniors. Ben ended up the second best high jumper in the world and has never looked back.

Ben Challenger jumping over the bar

Ben jumping 2.15m over the bar in Sheffield Indoor Arena

Looking ahead

Ben has recently teamed up with the highly acclaimed Swedish coach Yannick Tregaro, famous for training high jump world record holder Kajsa Bergquist and triple jump champion Christian Olsson. Ben commenced this year with training in South Africa, and is now returning from Sweden to prepare for the summer outdoor season, in which he hopes to take part.

Training with Yannick has really invigorated my training routine and especially my technique.

Yannick and his training group have helped me feel confident of my success in the future.

More about Ben and jumping