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

London 2012

Ben 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 in 2010 with training in South Africa, and is then took part in various competitions leading up to London 2012.

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

He then went on to compete in the qualifications for the London 2012, but sadly due to injury did not reach the Olympic games.  He hung up his spikes at the end of 2012 after 21 years in professional sport.

Now and the future…

After retiring, Ben spent a year deciding which new career path he wanted to undertake.  He had always loved teaching and found his passion to be very much routed in inspiring the future of tomorrow.  He interviewed and was awarded Head of Athletics and Individual Development at St Mary’s Girls school in Ascot.  One of the most prestigious girls school in the world.

More about Ben and jumping